Spendthrift council forks out £176,000 on sound system

The council chamber at Croydon Town Hall, complete with £176,000-worth of new audio kit, installed during the summer recess

The council chamber at Croydon Town Hall, complete with £176,000-worth of new audio kit, installed during the summer recess

Next week, thousands of Croydon children will make their ways to their schools at the start of the new term without the reassuring assistance of a “school crossing patrol officer” – a lollipop lady or man in old-fashioned, ordinary English – all because the Conservative-controlled Croydon Council wants to save £60,000.

Yet Inside Croydon has discovered that over the summer break, the very same Croydon Council has managed to install a new sound system in the council chamber at Croydon Town Hall which has cost us all

£176,000

Yep: the council that does not have enough cash to ensure the safety of our children – or at least children who attend schools in the northern part of the borough – can somehow dig deep for three times as much dough to pay for their speeches at the Town Hall to sound a bit better.

There is no question that Town Hall proceedings should be seen and heard by as many people as possible. If that was the case, then some of the twerps and buffoons on the council would get away with far fewer pieces of nonsense than they have managed to do in the past five years or so.

But upgrading the council chamber sound system at this point can only be reasonably regarded as a “nice to have”, and not a “must have”. In the “must have” category, surely, should be road safety for young children?

This latest self-serving expenditure was never actually discussed at the council, but appears to have been approved by a council official.

It is also worth noting that this expense might be viewed as utterly unnecessary in any case.

Mike Fisher: No cash for Lollipop patrols, but plenty of dough for a sound system

Mike Fisher: No cash for Lollipop patrols, but plenty of dough for a sound system

Mike Fisher, the rarely seen “leader” of the Tory group on the council, was forced into a corner earlier this year by Croydon Radio’s offer of broadcasting Town Hall debates for free, while the local government secretary Eric Pickles‘s demanded greater transparency in local government. Since then, the local web-based radio station has been enjoying bumper listening figures and full council meetings have been heard all around the borough – and all at nil cost to the Council Tax-payer.

It was Fisher’s administration, soon after taking control in 2006, that incurred the unnecessary expense of dismantling the broadcast facilities which allowed council meetings to be webcast. Whatever did they have to hide? Oh, where to begin..?

According to Nathan Elvery, the “interim” chief executive of Croydon Council, what has been installed in he council chamber this summer is a WiFi-based system, and therefore, “It is able to be easily relocated within the Town Hall or to another building if this should ever become necessary to do so.”

Wayne Lawlor, the Labour group’s spokesman, condemned the expenditure. “The amount of money that has been spent on this exercise, particularly after the removal of the webcam facility from the chamber, seems excessive,” said Lawlor, “especially at a time when council workers are losing their jobs, Council Tax has been put up, and the Tories have built themselves a £150 million headquarters office which they have furnished at a further expense of £3 million.”

  • Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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3 Responses to Spendthrift council forks out £176,000 on sound system

  1. The whole Council Chamber needs to be changed to another location where the public are not excluded on some distant upper balcony, but are an integral part of the democratic process – then there might be a better understanding of being accountable to the electorate, and there might be a lot less rude behaviour.

  2. Croydon council is behind the times and should have spent a little bit more (of our) money.

    Belfast City Council has found that the number of viewers of online coverage of its monthly meetings has risen by more than 500% in the last year.

    Webcams don’t cost that much, and given that Croydon spends a fortune on CCTV monitoring its citizens, we plebs should have better means of observing our elected representatives than sitting on hard benches at the back of the main Chamber, reading sanitised coverage in their propaganda sheets or be forced to rely on tweets and occasional local radio broadcasts.

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