Cotswold District Cllr Joe Harris has hit out at the cost of a video conferencing facility bought with West Oxfordshire District Council

First published in News by

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.”

Comments (6)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:06am Sun 14 Oct 12

Crispin Mount says...

No amount of vanity video conferencing or use of make-up can remedy a cracked image.
No amount of vanity video conferencing or use of make-up can remedy a cracked image. Crispin Mount
  • Score: 0

6:28pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Rampant says...

If you want cheap, poor quality video for individuals, then Skype is fine. But is does fall over a lot and cant store video conferences which CDC will be legally required to do.
If you want cheap, poor quality video for individuals, then Skype is fine. But is does fall over a lot and cant store video conferences which CDC will be legally required to do. Rampant
  • Score: 0

3:37pm Tue 16 Oct 12

Eyes Watermoor says...

What a total waste of taxpayers' money. Joe's right about this being old technology - why not ask someone who is likely to actually know how businesses operate in the 21st century?

We use Skype quite happily at work for conference calls, but if you want to use something more businesslike there are packages like GotoMeeting, which can host simultaneous presentations, can be recorded and works on a normal laptop or desktop without spending thousands. Yet again these people seem to have more (public) money than sense. Who is the system being bought from?
What a total waste of taxpayers' money. Joe's right about this being old technology - why not ask someone who is likely to actually know how businesses operate in the 21st century? We use Skype quite happily at work for conference calls, but if you want to use something more businesslike there are packages like GotoMeeting, which can host simultaneous presentations, can be recorded and works on a normal laptop or desktop without spending thousands. Yet again these people seem to have more (public) money than sense. Who is the system being bought from? Eyes Watermoor
  • Score: 0

1:02pm Wed 17 Oct 12

Council Taxpayer says...

What makes Rampant think that CDC has a legal requirement to store records of all video conferences any more than recordings of all telephone calls and other face-to-face discussions?
The truth is that the regulations on record keeping at local authorities are far too lax and, since the advent of the Freedom of Information Act, officers have realised that a very neat way around the legislation is to keep no records at all in some cases.
The golden days of FOI are over because officers these days always have an eye in what might come back to haunt them in the future if the information can be retrieved.
I understand that a senior CDC officer destroyed his detailed notes of an extremely contentious meeting during the failed attempt by the council earlier this year to blacken the reputation of a councillor who was trying to expose corruption in the Cotswold Water Park.
The Freedom of Information Act compels councils to disclose any information they might have but, ironically, the law does not force them to keep the information in the first place.
What makes Rampant think that CDC has a legal requirement to store records of all video conferences any more than recordings of all telephone calls and other face-to-face discussions? The truth is that the regulations on record keeping at local authorities are far too lax and, since the advent of the Freedom of Information Act, officers have realised that a very neat way around the legislation is to keep no records at all in some cases. The golden days of FOI are over because officers these days always have an eye in what might come back to haunt them in the future if the information can be retrieved. I understand that a senior CDC officer destroyed his detailed notes of an extremely contentious meeting during the failed attempt by the council earlier this year to blacken the reputation of a councillor who was trying to expose corruption in the Cotswold Water Park. The Freedom of Information Act compels councils to disclose any information they might have but, ironically, the law does not force them to keep the information in the first place. Council Taxpayer
  • Score: 0

5:17pm Wed 17 Oct 12

Olly Cromwell says...

Skype for business costs £3.49pm
Skype for business costs £3.49pm Olly Cromwell
  • Score: 0

7:57am Fri 19 Oct 12

Pentheus says...

And Facetime costs zero, total savings = £20,000 plus £1500 per annum.....

You can also record .....

I am available for Video Conferencing Presentation tutoring.....initial cost £20,000 plus annual refresher courses of £1500 per annum .....extras such as make up and hairdressing is charged in addition.....

I do fully understand that times are tough in Local Government with all the cutbacks (sic)
And Facetime costs zero, total savings = £20,000 plus £1500 per annum..... You can also record ..... I am available for Video Conferencing Presentation tutoring.....initial cost £20,000 plus annual refresher courses of £1500 per annum .....extras such as make up and hairdressing is charged in addition..... I do fully understand that times are tough in Local Government with all the cutbacks (sic) Pentheus
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree