More than half a million pounds looks set to be spent on revamping a committee room at Leeds Civic Hall.
Plans to redevelop a room on the West Wing of the public landmark to include a large public seating gallery, new audio visual equipment, upgraded air conditioning and heating systems and the creation of a waiting area will go before Leeds City Council’s executive board today.
The facility would replace its committee rooms 6/7, which it says “have long been considered an entirely inadequate space for large public meetings” due to restrictions in public viewing, noise nuisance, temperature issues and disabled access.
The £550,000 revamp, which councillors are recommended to rubber stamp today, has been criticised by the Lib Dem group which claims £205,000 will be spent on “trendy new furniture”.
Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the Lib Dems, said: “Those of us who use the Civic Hall know that the current meetings rooms are not perfect for the public to attend meetings and hold us to account, but these plans verge on the obscene.”
In a report to councillors, officers have stated that at present the authority effectively has “no fit for purpose meeting space which involves the public”.
Alternatives to the scheme that were considered included refurbishing existing committee rooms, which have reportedly had no significant investment in them in over 20 years, or not taking any action. The report suggests the latter would still cost £192,000 as the lighting, heating and air conditioning system is in need of repair and new furniture will be required.
It concludes the new facility “is better value for money” than refurbishing existing facilities.
Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s executive member for planning, added that the works will “support the democratic process for many years into the future.”