The idea of webcasting sessions is being discussed at a council committee meeting next week (Thursday 30th August) and the recommendation from council officers is that councillors agree to a one-off trial, which could be followed by regular webcasts from the start of the 2013/14 municipal year.
“The webcasting of Council meetings could make a contribution to promoting the democratic process and to increasing the transparency of the Council’s decision making,” says a report prepared for the meeting of the council’s General Purposes Committee.
“It … could potentially make an important contribution to … increasing community engagement by enabling more of its citizens to having greater involvement in the democratic process.”
Impact on “conduct” of meetings
Technically there appears to be no major problem. Council officers have held initial talks with suppliers and believe that “a viable solution can be implemented”.
The report acknowledges that webcasting would have a “considerable impact on the conduct and governance” of council meetings – and that councillors could have concerns (they haven’t been consulted fully yet) and would need training.
“It would be necessary to invest a considerable effort into ensuring buy-in and overcoming any potential concerns or difficulties that they (councillors) may have,” it says.
No cash has been set aside yet for the project, but the one-off trial could cost as little as £3,500.
A fully managed service run by an external provider could provide webcasts from the Civic Chamber (where full council sessions are held) at a cost of £16,000 a year, the report says. Webcasting from two committee rooms could cost an extra £9,000. Upgrading the Chamber’s audio system would involve a one-off cost of around £6,000.
“General Purpose Committee are recommended to agree to the trial webcasting of a Council meeting as a one off event and, subject to the outcome of the trial, authorise the Director of Resources to develop the proposal to webcast Council meetings from the start of the 2013/14 municipal year,” runs the report’s recommendation.