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Communications are being improved to and from council buildings across the islands, says Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.  

In the Council headquarters on Sandwick Road, the Chamber has has state-of-the art IT systems installed.

This is part of wider improvements to conferencing facilities for any CnES 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.

Meanwhile, refurbishment works on the Comhairle Chamber approach completion. 

CnES says that the within-budget works comprise replacement of the furniture and IT equipment, as well as redecoration.

The new furnishings incorporate the commemorative Iolaire Tweed into the design, providing a legacy to the 1919 disaster. 

New LED screens, coupled to enhanced IT facilities will improve the presentation experience and an upgrade of video conferencing facilities, in the Chamber and at other Comhairle sites.

CnES says this will allow for an enhanced remote attendance experience, which in turn will reduce travel requirements.  The décor has been freshened to complete the refurbishment. 

The previous furniture in the Comhairle Chamber dated back to when the building was first built in the late 1970s.  The seating was 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, says CnES.  

"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 construction works were undertaken by Lewis Builders Ltd at a cost of £112,000.  The 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 final element of the works are the chairs which have been supplied by Mackenzie Holdings Ltd at a cost of £16,000.

The Comhairle states that it "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."