Council business falls on deaf ears

The Braid. BT8-268AC
The Braid. BT8-268AC

Acoustic problems in the chamber at the Braid which continue to hamper the smooth running of Mid & East Antrim ‘Super Council’ meetings have been traced to microphone interference caused by members’ mobile phones.

Councillors, who are closely packed into the main body of the chamber, particularly those seated towards the rear, and press, who are located right at the back of the room, have been left frustrated at not being able to hear what was being discussed at the new authority’s full monthly meetings which are all held at The Braid.

At the latest gathering last Monday night, a Council officer said investigations had concluded that interference from councillors’ mobile phones could be at the root of the problem.

She said the Northern Ireland Assembly was the only other body in the province to use the same sound system and that Assembly members were not permitted to use their phones in their chamber and were under instructions to put their devices on airplane mode, thereby disabling their wireless activity. The officer, however, said she was aware that to do so could be “inconvenient” and suggested that they “carry on as normal”, taking a short adjournment should any problems arise.

At a recent meeting of their Policy and Resources Committee the go-ahead was given to seek advice over the design of the chamber which members felt was ‘not conducive to effective meetings.’