Communications are being improved at public buildings across the islands as refurbishment works on the Comhairle Chamber approach completion. The within budget works comprised replacement of the furniture and Information Technology equipment, as well as redecoration.
The refurbished Comhairle Chamber now provides a functional workspace with new furnishings which incorporate the commemorative Iolaire Tweed (design, developed and donated by Harris Tweed Hebrides) into the design, providing a legacy to the disaster which took the lives of 201 men and affected so many communities across the islands. New LED screens, coupled to enhanced IT facilities will improve the presentation experience and an upgrade of video conferencing facilities, here and at other Comhairle sites, will allow for an enhanced remote attendance experience, which in turn will reduce travel requirements. The décor has been freshened to complete the refurbishment and provide an environment that will be suitable for many more councils to come.
The furniture in the Comhairle Chamber dated back to when the building was originally constructed in the late 1970s. The seating was becoming tattered and insecure and the desking unsuitable for modern working methods. On lifting the carpet, which was becoming frayed in places, the extent of remedial works required to the floor became more evident to the extent that a full replacement was required.
The chamber were not built for modern working methods, and the addition of projection equipment and video conferencing facilities over past years did not provide confidence in being able to provide an effective experience for those wishing to attend remotely. Indeed, even for those present in the Chamber, the presentation experience was not always successful.
The desking was provided by Harvey McLean Ltd at a cost of £37,000.
The state of the art IT systems were provided, and installed by Ajenta & MediaScape at a cost of £90,000 and this was part of wider improvements to conferencing facilities across the islands totalling £268,000. The IT costs include new conferencing facilities across all the islands for any site that had meeting rooms which consisted of a display, video conferencing kit and laptop. The new system allows for the live broadcasting of committee meetings over the public internet.
The final element of the works are the chairs which have been supplied locally by Mackenzie Holdings Ltd at a cost of £16,000.
The Comhairle thanks the above suppliers and contractors for the professional manner in which the works were undertaken and for the end products which will improve communications across the Islands and aid in effective representation and local democracy.