Councillor Unhappy As Authority Drops Live Webcasts Of Meetings

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

A St Mary’s councillor is unhappy that the Authority is no longer streaming its meetings live on the internet.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough has been told by officers it’s to save money, but he feels it’s a “backward step” at a time when Town Hall management is being accused of a lack of transparency.

Since 2010, the company Public-i have been providing a live streaming service for the majority of their, at a cost of just under £15,000 a year.

That finished at the end of March and there have been no webcasts since.

In a report that went before councillors in March, legal Officer Richard Burraston wrote that it was “probable that live casting will continue,” but if a solution can’t be found, footage would “be made available immediately after meetings have concluded.”

He added that there was no legal requirement for the Council to broadcast its meetings.

Now, recorded meetings are being put up the next day on YouTube.

Tuesday’s Full Council meeting, described by Gordon as the most important meeting of the year, was available on the site yesterday morning.

He said the format is completely different and the quality is “awful” with no close ups of the council members or officers who are talking.

Gordon says he asked whether councillors had been given a chance to vote on the changes, but was told it was an “operational decision.”

And Gordon feels the public ought to be able to see the meetings while they’re happening.

“You can abolish lots of things to save money,” says Gordon, “but at the price of democracy.”

He’s worried that it provides an opportunity for video footage to be edited before being uploaded if there was a particularly controversial discussion.

“With a live feed, you can’t hide anything,” he says.

Gordon’s been told that new recording equipment has been ordered but hasn’t arrived yet.

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