Sunday, February 26, 2012

SLDC Council Meeting Webcasts

Last Thursday South Lakeland District Council did a live webcast of their Full Council meeting for the first time following a previous pilot.  This is an area I've casually moaned about in various forums (see bottom of post for various links) - councillors over time in general have commented on the lack of public coming to watch the council proceedings, my argument is that peoples working life don't allow the time needed to get themselves to these meetings to see what goes on, the council need to switch from assuming the public should come the them to making it easier for the council to get closer to the public.

Last year BBC4 broadcast a programme called Tales from the National Park, the first programme covered a issue in the Lake District which involved a planning application, one of the planning meeting was filmed, you could see the councillor stating their cases before a vote, some were with passion, others with nimby-ism.  But what was clear was reinforcing my thoughts that with the technology we have available today why were these meetings not being made for open to the general public (the ones that can't attend)

So I'll cut to the chase, below is the live view I had (plus the football), a fixed camera on the whole meeting with the audio fed in so you can hear everything clearly.  It was more than I was expecting, councillors were conscious of the webcast and acknowledged at odd points to need to do certain things to benefit those watching, like naming councillors as the majority of watchers won't recognise the councillor speaking.

Turned out the webcast had 250 viewers, which is a large number for something so local.  For me it's not important how many watch live, it that's we with have a clearer record of what is said in council meetings, so it I read or hear a sound bite in the media that I can go to the council recording and listen to it myself and get the full context that you would never of got from reading the minutes.

So could this broadcast be improved on?  I don't think it could or needs to - it would be interesting to see a meeting for a smaller committee, whether the camera needs to change it's position or how webcasts are dealt with which have sections which the public can't watch - also I think next they should move to broadcasting meetings that more often are likely to have the public involved like the planning meetings.

Next I need to see if LDNPA will start webcasting, recording their meetings which are open to the public

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