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Labour members of Deal Town Council criticised for spending £23k on audio system

By Eleanor Perkins

Labour members on Deal Town Council have been criticised for forking out almost £24,000 of tax payer’s money for an audio and visual system for meetings.

The system includes up to 20 microphones for councillors, members of the public and a hearing loop for the deaf.

The cost also covers the purchase of an additional projector for presentations, plus an amplifier, speakers and installation.

Cllr Wayne Elliott thinks the expenditure is a waste of tax payer's money
Cllr Wayne Elliott thinks the expenditure is a waste of tax payer's money

Conservative councillor Wayne Elliott has labelled the expense “a total abuse of tax payer’s hard earned money”, with Cllr Trevor Bond adding, “they’re buying a Porsche when a Ford would do.”

Cllr Elliott said: “This system would be more advanced than what Dover District Council have at Whitfield where they have over 50 councillors not the 15 that we have on Deal Town Council, plus the chamber at Whitfield is twice as large as Deal Town Hall.”

Responsible Finance Officer Paul Bone approached seven suppliers for quotes, three of which declined to tender and another which didn’t offer a wireless solution which councillors wanted.

Members were then presented with three quotes which were £23,506, £24,400 or £27,000.

Six votes were received for the cheapest quote of £23,506. They were two votes against it and two abstentions.

Labour councillor Dominic Harper has defending the move saying it was the Conservative party, when they had the majority power on the council, that suggested updating the system.

He said: “It’s surprising that they’re angry about it now when they were the ones that wanted to update the system.

“We’ve had a lot of complaints from members of the public saying the current system is not fit for purpose and there’s people with hearing difficulties that we need to consider.

“The finance officer took us through the various options and we want a working system not just for council meetings but for general events, like weddings, at the town hall.

“It’s meant to be a public venue and people are meant to be able to hear what’s said.”

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