Comhairle to upgrade audio system

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Councillors are struggling to have their voices heard at the Comhairle as the ageing audio system cannot cope.

All Comhairle public meetings are recorded and councillors are asked to speak into the microphones and turn off their mobile phones to prevent interference. There is also a simultaneous Gaelic to English translation through desk headsets for members and through portable headsets for the press and public. These regularly fail, particularly the portable units and often microphones do not work.

Nevertheless, at a recent meeting at the Comhairle, Chief Executive Malcolm Burr could be heard to say a new system would be installed this summer.

“Failures are regularly occurring in the audio system,” he said. “We have looked at a number of proposals with varying degrees of technological advancement. We will have to undertake some work on the audio system but we need to look at what represents best value.”

Convener Norman M Macdonald drew attention to the system used by the Scottish Parliament during their visit to Stornoway for Parliament Day last month and said this would be a good choice because it was wireless and could be used anywhere.

Of the current Comhairle system, he said: “I think we should work this as soon as possible, it’s an embarrassment that we have to put equipment off because there is feedback.”

Mr Burr said of the Scottish Parliament system: “This can be one of the options, wireless is much more usable in other settings but it is slightly more expensive.”

Cllr Angus McCormack asked if Bord na Gaidhlig could be asked to assist with the cost of the system due to the translation system.