Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Webcasting - Council shows its worst side

Cornwall Council today voted to continue its webcasting experiment for the next six months - but at the same time produced an unedifying spectacle for anyone who happened to be watching the current product.

There was a report on the first few months of the project which showed that as many as 17,000 people had viewed the three webcast meetings to date - either live or in archive. The recommendation was to continue the experiment and to extend it to other meetings including Cabinet and big planning meetings.

However there seemed to be a move afoot to limit the extension because of concerns about costs and so an amendment was proposed. Except that the amendment has resulted in an unworkable policy. It wants the Cabinet meetings to be covered, but denied the right to extend the coverage to the room in which the meetings are held. Councillors were unclear what they were meant to be voting on and even after the vote was taken were asking what was going on.

Even at a time when we have to make cuts, the extra costs incurred in webcasting meetings are relatively tiny compared to the ability to reach out to people who care about Council decisions but cannot (or will not) travel to Truro to watch them in person.

Today's decision denies the ability to webcast Strategic Planning meetings - despite the fact that these usually take place in the room which has the cameras fitted.

I don't think that Cornwall Council meetings will ever overtake Eastenders as popular entertainment. But finding a way to reach out to new audiences and to engage them is a key part of what I think the Council should be doing. I'm therefore very disappointed with the decision today.

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