£250,000 revamp for Vale Council chamber
A STAIRLIFT will be one feature added in a £250,000 revamp of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's chamber - to meet disability requirements.
Alterations, aimed at improving access, also include removing tiered flooring, installing a suspended floor and replacing furniture in the venue - required as the existing chairs do not allow adjustment in height or back position.
The cost of these, including the stairlift, is estimated at £210,000.
The project also includes installing floor sockets to allow Members to plug in laptops, replacing the wall finish to include acoustic panels to improve the Chamber's sound quality, adding storerooms, and replacing the existing ceiling and lighting.
The cost of these additional schemes will be £40,000 - and it is considered more cost effective to carry out the works at the same time as the larger works.
But Cllr Jeff James, who called in the Cabinet report of December 3, to an extraordinary Corporate Resources scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday (January 8), said the council chamber 'should reflect the status of the organisation'.
Other venues, he said, such as Cardiff's St David's Hall, the New Theatre and the House of Commons, 'wouldn't rip out all their tiers and alter seating'.
Cllr James said: "I think the chamber reflects the status of this council.
"The wood paneling has been a significant part of this council's heritage for 30 years. It's throwing the baby out with the bath water."
In her report to the scrutiny committee, Vale Council managing director Sian Davies said: "Options on the Chamber have been drafted previously and the current proposal was felt to be the best option to ensure that the Chamber is accessible to all.
"The proposal is to ensure that the Chamber is usable for all citizens, staff groups and members.
"At present the Chamber is inaccessible to wheelchair users and as such leaves the Council open to action being taken against it for discrimination."
She added: "The works are the Council's demonstration of its intent to change the built environment in line with its Disability Equality Scheme and its duty under the Vale's Single Equality Scheme.
"The flexibility of the proposed works will allow for the Chamber to be a multiple use facility, allowing it to be used by all members of the community."
The money will come from the Capital budget.