Local people may soon be able to watch live Internet streaming of meetings of both North Warwickshire Borough Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and to look up crucial debates on Youtube.
Mike O’Brien has welcomed news that both councils have asked their officers to report on how this can be done and the cost. He has called on Warwickshire County Council to do the same.
“Its good to see the District Councils taking the lead on this. Most people lead busy lives and don’t have time to go to a council meeting but they may be interested in seeing what is said about a particular issue, a planning application, a debate on HS2 or a decision at a council meeting that affects their town or village.
“If someone can sit at home and see it on their computer screen live or on utube a few days later, it will make councils more relevant, in touch and aware that people are watching them.
“Broadcasting Parliament is now taken for granted and technology has now moved on to enable inexpensive live streaming and uploading onto Youtube.
“The Labour local authorities are doing this. I call on the Conservative Party who run Warwickshire County Council to also do so.”
Cllr Mick Stanley, the Leader of North Warwickshire Borough Council, has said,
“Our meetings are mostly open to the public and when Labour took office we allowed the public to speak at planning meetings.
“Streaming is the same as allowing people to go to council meetings, except we bring the meeting to them in their home. I have asked council officers to examine how to open up our council meetings. I will then ask councillors to discuss it. We will need to get a budget prepared but these days a few cameras and a press officers time uploading onto a website shouldn’t cost the earth.
“At the moment streaming is contrary to our Standing Orders so we would have to prevent recording of meetings, but I hope we can change that in a few weeks.”
And Nuneaton and Bedworth Council Leader Denis Harvey said,
“We have already asked officers to look into ‘streaming’ the Cabinet and Council meetings live, so that everyone can just ‘tune in’ and see for themselves what goes on.
“Nuneaton and Bedworth has long been one of the most open councils in the country. We are happy to use the new internet possibilities, but we want everyone to see the ‘full version’, not edited ‘highlights’ put out for party political purposes by opposition members.”
New rules will be implemented in August under the Local Audit and Accountability Act, will give the public rights to report at open meetings of local government bodies by filming, photographing, audio recording or any other means. The results can be published, posted or otherwise shared during or after the meeting. The new rules apply to all “relevant local government bodies”, which include all local authorities, fire authorities and parish councils.