Webcasting – A vote – A shambles

I came away wondering how the success of web-casting turned into an utter shambles with a motion to extend the project. Now for less than £20k the web-casting has allowed over 17,000 people to view live and watch the recorded meetings of full Council. No one could argue that this is not a success in allowing more people access to a Council meeting.

So imagine today, a further motion (as was always the plan) to extend this to include meetings held in the Trelawney room. Mainly Cabinet, but also to web-cast the planning meetings held at County Hall before it’s rolled out to the other planning areas. So far, so good. Then it turned into a shambles with an amendment proposed by Cllr Eathorne-Gibbons.

Now I have no problem with amendments, its democracy. Sometimes an amendment can improve the original motion, but today was not one of those times. The amendment would have killed off web-casting with almost imidiate effect (he said he was in support of web-casting in his speech). I knew this and so did many others, but it was only when this was explained to Cllr Gibbons by the Monitoring Officer he had to change his amendment. You have to ask yourself how can you have any faith in an amendment when the author himself does not understand it.

What happened in the end was the amendment was passed 44-37 votes. This meant the web-casting will continue and would include the broadcasting of Cabinet (good), but it stopped the ability to extend the coverage that would include the room that the Cabinet is held.  So you can broadcast it, but you can’t have the equipment to do this……

Also, as part of the original motion it was recommended was to give the Council some scope in broadcasting other important meetings that are in the public interest. This amendment stops that. We now will have to continue to do what we currently do using other media. The last few of these have cost over £3k per time.

The Council was also looking to hire out this facility, but that can’t be done because only Council and Cabinet can be broadcast using this equipment. This amendment has not made the Council more open and transparent and cost effective, but hamstrung it.

I do wonder sometimes.

Here are some other views Cllrs FolkesRowe,  and BBC’s Graham Smith

One comment

  • Robert Rush

    Andrew – I was tuning in at the time and you're right, it was a shambles.

    I would like the Council to have the vision to be as open and democratically accountable as possible, engaging the general public as wide as possible.

    Clearly there is a group of progressive councillors who want the Council to be progressive, realising that by embracing this technology allows it to tick more than a few boxes: transparency, demonstrate value, accountability, extends reach. It also shouts loud about Cornwall's ITC infrastructure – next gen broadband is on its way and Council should be setting the example of the way to go.

    Unfortunately the webcast showed too many expressionless faces suggesting they either (a) don't get it, or (b) think it's a distraction from getting on with the agenda, and that's worrying.

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