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Eastfield County Councillor Frustrated Over Failed Hearing Loop

Eastfield County Councillor Frustrated Over Failed Hearing Loop

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 5:45pm 2nd December 2019.

A local authority serving a rapidly rising elderly population has issued reassurances over its commitment to helping those struggling with technology as a councillor walked out of a meeting as a hearing loop failed.

Six minutes into a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate and partnerships scrutiny committee Scarborough's Eastfield member Tony Randerson voiced his frustration about not being able to hear the debate as two council officers appeared to work on a microphone.

As the authority’s assistant director of technology and change Robert Ling told members the council was aiming to increase the percentage of its customer interactions from 46 per cent online to 70 per cent Cllr Randerson, who has a three-hour round trip to attend meetings, told officers at the side of the room he had been left unable to take part.

Meanwhile, Mr Ling told the meeting:

“We are a digital first service where possible. That does not mean digital only, which is an important distinction.

In the main we will offer channels to all people, but we want people to use the quickest channel for them and the best channel for them.

So if someone really cannot get online we will offer them a telephone service.”

The committee’s chairman Councillor Derek Bastiman said the push towards getting everyone to embrace technology was concerning. He said:

“It is a pet hate of mine. Whilst we want to get everyone online there are areas within the county that can’t get signed up to the internet.

We must not lose sight of them, because they are the most important people because they can’t get on the internet.”

As Mr Ling gave reassurances over the council’s policy towards people who struggled with online services, Cllr Randerson interrupted the meeting to tell members he had been embarrassed by members being asked to pass around a microphone so he could hear the debate.

He said it was not the first time he had been left in the difficult situation.

Cllr Randerson said:

“It’s unacceptable. This organisation should have facilities for disabled. I’m disabled through my hearing. I’m going under protest, I can’t manage like this.”

After the meeting, Cllr Randerson said he had accepted “a profuse apology” from the council for failing in to provide a hearing loop as was necessary under the Equality Act.

He said:

“The first thing in their minds should be disability. It is a pity that it took me walking out, but I am more than happy they have put things in place to prevent this happening again.

If you can’t hear what’s being said you can’t participate in the debate and you can’t represent your constituents in a proper way.”


There are 2 comments on this page.

Fileyman, on 3rd December 2019 8:16am
A three hour round trip to attend meetings in Scarborough?.

His home is in Scarborough according to the Internet.
Iggy, on 4th December 2019 6:47pm
County Council meetings will be in Northallerton.

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