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Sheerness councillor Steve Worrall has branded a Swale council decision to spend £55,000 on recording equipment for its meetings as an 'ego trip'

By Emma Grove

A councillor has slammed a decision to broadcast meetings to the public as nothing more than an ego trip.

We reported in June how Swale has spent £55,000 on recording equipment and TV screens to allow residents to see what goes on during debates.

On Wednesday at a full council meeting, members were videoed by cameras in the chamber at Swale House in East Street, Sittingbourne, for the first time.

Swale council's HQ in Sittingbourne
Swale council's HQ in Sittingbourne

People cannot yet view it online. It is expected this will be possible around May next year.

In the meantime, the footage can be obtained by making a request to the authority.

When the move was announced it received much criticism, with it being branded a waste of money when community groups are struggling to get funding.

Council leader Cllr Andrew Bowles (Con) hit back, saying it is a way for the council to be open and transparent and the timing was appropriate as the current audio system needed to be replaced anyway.

Now they’ve been in front of the cameras, some of the councillors have had their say about it.

Sheerness West councillor Steve Worrall (Lab) questioned what benefit it will be to the community and accused some of his fellow members of looking at the screen while they were talking.

“[The money] was spent for an ego trip,” he said.

“Some of them just want to look nice and see themselves on TV as it makes them feel important.

“I suspect there won’t be any people looking at it and it’s of no benefit to the public whatsoever.”

Labour group spokesman Cllr Roger Truelove (also see page 8) said the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

He said the £55,000 could have gone on providing free car-parking in town centres, something which Labour called for but was told there wasn’t money to be spent ‘so frivolously’.

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