Hartlepool council to consider seating changes and technology improvements to meeting chamber

Hartlepool Borough Council chamber

Council bosses are to consider spending £6,500 on new technology in its council chamber and altering the current seating arrangements.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s constitution committee are to discuss plans to install two speakers and a new amplifier to the rear of the council chamber, costing £3,000.

They are also to discuss whether to invest in two 55 inch screens – mounted on trolleys with the necessary equipment to relay meeting footage in the chamber, costing over £3,700 including installation.

Meanwhile a complaint has also been made about the seating arrangement of councillors, stating the current position with some having their backs to the public, is ‘offensive and disrespectful’.

This comes after concerns were raised by the public of difficulties hearing and seeing existing proceedings in the council chamber.

A report from council chief executive Gill Alexander said:  “Four display screens were installed in the council chamber in November 2016.

“Concerns have been raised that these screens are sometimes difficult to see.

“Two additional screens could be placed at the back of the council chamber to help people sitting in the public gallery.

“A number of elected members and members of the public raised concerns about the system and the difficulty they had hearing some of the proceedings.

“In order to ensure the sound quality in the council chamber is reinforced, two additional speakers could be placed at the back of the room.”

The report also said alternative options are being explored into how costs could be reduced.

The quotes for the technology have been provided by Saville Audio Visual.

Councillors are to also consider the seating arrangements for meeting in the council chamber following the public complaint being submitted.

Meanwhile a request has also been received to the council by the Putting Hartlepool First (PHF) group, asking to be moved to the front of the chamber and the Conservative group moved to the back.

This is due to the fact PHF are the ‘second largest opposition party’ in the council.

If approved it is anticipated the one off funds for any technology would be released from the review of the council’s reserves.

The proposals will be discussed at the constitution committee meeting on Thursday at the Civic Centre in Hartlepool from noon.

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