A hearing loop could soon be in the pipeline for a town council.
Sandy Town Council has made assurances that it intends to improve audibility in the Cambridge Road council chamber after criticisms were made by Councillor Ken Lynch.
Mr Lynch, whose hearing is deteriorating, said he first asked the council to provide a hearing loop a year and a half ago. Recently this was delayed because the council was expecting to move to new offices in the Old Chapel, a plan that fell through in December.
A portable audio loop was provided in the autumn but Mr Lynch said that his hearing has now worsened, making it impossible to hear members of the public or councillors at the far ends of the table.
He was concerned that funding was not allocated in the next financial year’s budget.
Mr Lynch said: “I won’t be able to go to any more meetings until there’s a proper loop system. Why go to a meeting if you can’t hear?”
Town clerk Delia Shephard said: “During 2012 I advised the council that they should provide a hearing loop of adequate quality in order to comply with the Equality Act and meet best practice.
“This advice was not disregarded but the provision of a permanent loop was delayed as we were planning our move to the Old Chapel in the early part of 2013. Now that we are not moving the hearing loop is back on the agenda.”
The cost was not included in the revenue budget because it is more likely to come from the capital funds.
Mrs Shephard added: “The council has already stated that it intends to investigate internal alterations to the building and I am confident that consideration of the hearing loop will be included in a review of changes to the chamber.
“I will be obtaining up to date quotations as soon as we are in a position to proceed.
“Meanwhile, a portable audio loop has been provided and Cllr Lynch tells me he can hear everything in meetings except comments from the public gallery.
“Several other hearing aid users have also provided information to the council that they can hear well during meetings in the chamber.”
The council is also looking at the layout of the chamber, the furniture and potential ways of amplifying sound in a bid to improve audibility for everyone, including people without hearing impediments.
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