LYME Regis town councillors have agreed to reintroduce audio recording at their meetings in a bid to improve accuracy, transparency and behaviour.

Members of the council’s strategy and finance committee heard that video and audio recording of meetings stopped in 2016 due to the equipment not being fit for purpose and of poor quality, despite paying £6,493 in installation costs in 2013.

It was agreed that video recording was not needed, but many councillors were keen to bring back the audio recording.

Cllr Jeff Scowen said: “No one is in favour more than me for being in a video, but I honestly can’t see the point in filming.

“Audio recording is definitely a good idea, but let’s look at this more sensibly, it doesn’t need £6,000, which I think was the cost before, it is more like £600. It can be done very cheaply.

“Most other councils do it, perhaps we could ask a few that we know, and I am dead in favour of this, the sooner the better and certainly it will encourage members to behave more correctly.”

Cllr Brian Larcombe suggested it could be used to improve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting by helping to fill in any gaps, as well as removing any doubts or refuted comments councillors may have made and agreed it could improve councillors’ behaviour.

He said: “If it helps improve the behaviour in this chamber, I am all for it because we have had throw away remarks from one or two councillors, which hasn’t helped us as a council, and if this makes people think twice before they speak, good on it.

“Let’s have this audio recording, let’s have it for the purposes of efficiency, accuracy and hopefully to improve behaviour.

“I can think of no reason why we shouldn’t invest a very modest sum to buy that equipment.”

Cllr Michaels Ellis explained that previous demand for the recordings was very low and that Adrienne Mullins, administrative officer and minute taker for the town council, shouldn’t need to take more time out to listen to the recordings as the minutes should have everything in them.

She didn’t agree with recording the meetings to improve behaviour.

She said: “Our behaviour should be impeccable anyway, we should be respecting one another and the people that are sat there in the public forum, so recording or not, the behaviour should be the same.”

Cllr Steve Miller, chairman of the strategy and finance committee, was in favour of using the recordings to enable people to listen to a particular item in a meeting, but said that using it as a scrutiny item against properly taken minutes was not a reason to have it.

Cllr Larcombe added: “It is about efficiency in how you can do minutes, you can do minutes better if you have an audio you can listen to and actually get the sense of that meeting.

“It is not a verbatim thing, it’s about how decisions are arrived at and the sense of the meeting.

“There have been, in my view, a number of meetings where the record hasn’t shown enough of the way in which decisions were reached.

“We have had that discussion over the last two years, we have also had minutes recording the wrong people having put resolutions forward, some of them weren’t even at the meeting, or even on the committee, and these things sometimes have been refuted.

“There has to be a very cheap, a very simple and very efficient way of refuting things if need be.”

John Wright, town clerk, assured members that the way the minutes are taken will not change.

He said: “If people think we are going to replace the way we construct the minutes at the moment, in terms of he said, she said, there is absolutely no intention to do that, so what you see in front of you will broadly appear to be the same.

“There seems to be from members a view that their comments will be further recorded in the minutes, that won’t be the case.”

Cllr Sean Larcombe proposed that the council take advice on the costing for the audio and reinstate it after the costing had been agreed.

This was agreed, and the proposal was carried.