Councillor slams Town Hall phone system

Coun Gareth Fairhurst struggles to connect to the council's new internet telephone service

Coun Gareth Fairhurst struggles to connect to the council's new internet telephone service

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A COUNCILLOR is protesting over the introduction of Town Hall’s new internet-based phone system.

Newly re-elected Gareth Fairhurst believes the VoIP (Voice Over Internet) system which incorporates phone services into his council-supplied computer is unnecessarily complex and its roll out shouldn’t be a priority at a time of £66m budget reductions across all services over the next four years.

He believes the Metro could use the existing BT line that they fitted at his Standish home when he was previously in office less than three years ago for his council phone, which was never removed.

He is also unhappy that the new system needs four permanently connected three pin mains electrical plugs to operate which he will have to have fitted by an electrician, because his home doesn’t have enough at present.

Standish Independent Coun Fairhurst’s suggestion that the Metro use his council-supplied BlackBerry mobile device as the official number published in the council’s website for members of the public to contact him on was turned down on cost grounds.

Standish Independent Coun Fairhurst, who won the seat from the Conservatives in the local authority elections in May, said: “Since being elected I have tried and tried to get things sorted in a calm manner which is probably different from my previous term as an elected member. But it doesn’t work and it is clear that the council don’t want to treat me equally, they want to treat me differently and then don’t want to work with me.

“Wigan Council may not like the fact that I was elected but the sooner that the council recognise that the sooner things mighty change,

“They say that they will give in and out my BlackBerry number on the website for members of the public to contact me but they will also then tell everybody that if they call me on the line it is going to cost more than calling any other councillor because they will be on the VoIP landline.

“But I know of a councillor who always used his mobile number as the point of contact because he was moving around and never once was there any warning on the council’s website that this would cost the public more if they used it.

“The council are always talking about green energy but this system have four plugs permanently connected to the mains so that doesn’t seem very green to me.

“They already have a landline in from the last time I was a councillor, which is just sat there redundant at present, that would only cost them £10 a month for line rental. But they won’t hear of it.”

Wigan Council’s chief executive, Donna Hall, said: “We have tried to encourage Coun Fairhurst to use the telephone system we have in place. We have had very positive feedback from all councillors to this system, and none have expressed concerns with the technology.

“The system has saved us at least £200 per councillor - equating to £15,000.”