COUNCIL leader Mike Bawden (Con, Old Town and Lawns) will be quizzed tonight about why the authority needs to spend £50,000 upgrading its sound system in the council chamber.

Swindon Council has allocated the money as part of improvements to the debating chamber and other committee rooms at the Civic Offices, but some councillors think it is a waste of money.

Judith Peppitt (Lib Dem, Freshbrook and Grange Park) will call on Coun Bawden to explain why money is being spent upgrading the sound system when money is more urgently needed in education, social services and on other priorities.

Coun Peppitt said: "There is nothing wrong with the system as it is. There are a few councillors who don't need a microphone at all. We could employ at least two more teachers for that amount of money. This is just another example of taxpayers' money being wasted.

The council's decision-making cabinet approved the upgrade money at its meeting on June 18 and it forms part of a wider improvement budget for other committee rooms across the Civic Offices. The money being used is coming from the authority's capital budget.

Coun Bawden said the current system is five years old, starting to show signs of old age and spare parts can no longer be found should it break down. He said: "We are told that the sound system is not up to standard. It's important that councillors and members of the public can be heard during debates."

Tonight's Full Council meeting is being held at the Civic Offices in Euclid Street from 7pm.