According to ITV News, in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the Cabinet Office on Friday issued a breakdown of the costs of the new Downing Street Briefings Studio as totalling £2,607,767.67, largely excluding VAT.
The department said that funds have been spent to allow daily broadcasting by various news organisations within the Grade I listed building at No.9 Downing Street.
“This will necessarily require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting,” the response said.
“This spending is in the public interest as the new broadcasting of lobby briefings will increase public accountability and transparency about the work of this Government now and in the future.
“Such spending on maintenance and technical facilities reflects that 9 Downing Street (the Privy Council Office) is a Grade I listed building.”
When we first wrote to complain on behalf of our Deaf clients that there was no British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter for the Covid-Briefings we were told that there was no space at Downing Street. This was subsequently dropped as a Defence in the Judicial Review launched by Katie Rowley and was referred to by Caroline Nokes MP as “Shameful”.
In creating a purpose made facility for these important public briefings, we hope that accessibility has been designed in. That should include a means of making the studio accessible to and evacuation proof for wheelchair users, and ensuring that there is sufficient space for a BSL Interpreter to be visible on the platform. This should form part of an Equality Impact Assessment associated with the new project.
So, today we’ve sent this letter to the Cabinet Office in association with The Royal Association for Deaf people in the hope that we’ll find these new Briefings will benefit from BSL Interpretation. Fingers Crossed.