THE youngest member of Cotswold District Council has hit out at the council for using taxpayer’s money to pay for an expensive video conferencing facility.

At last week’s meeting of CDC’s Conservative-run cabinet, 19-year-old Cllr Joe Harris (Lib Dem, Park) asked how much a video conferencing facility recently bought jointly by CDC and West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) had cost the council.

Cabinet member for support services Cllr John Burgess (Con, Beeches) said the system would cost £20,000 to set up with a further annual cost of £1,500 – costs that would be shared between CDC and WODC on a 50-50 basis.

He added the arrangements were expected to generate a total saving of around £116,000 over five years.

Cllr Harris said he was “aghast” to learn of this cost, and asked Cllr Burgess to explain why they did not use a system such as Skype, which allows users to make video calls over the internet for free.

Cllr Burgess said that Skype is not free for business users such as CDC and that it was not up to the specifications the two councils required.

He added he would be recalling the council’s IT working group to review and discuss the arrangements, and invited Cllr Harris to join the group.

“I would like to have some input from a generation which has grown up with technology rather than us old fogeys who have had it thrust upon us,” he said.

“To have an input from your generation would be very useful.”