The Vale of Glamorgan Council has announced on its website that there will be no live-streamed tv webcast of the coverage of tonight’s meeting of the council’s Planning Committee.
The council also says that no video recording of the meeting is to be available on the council’s website , so it can’t even be viewed at a later date. Later the website message was amended to ascribe the cancellation of coverage to “technical issues”.
IN 2013 funding of £40,000 was allocated by the Minister for Local Government and Communities to every large local authority to webcast its proceedings. The idea was all part of a UK Government initiative to make council proceedings more accessible and to improve local democracy.
To claim the cash windfall, each council had to commit to carrying out a webcast “pilot” by the end of that financial year and then later progressively roll-out the trial to cover an increasing number of each council’s many other meetings .
The Vale of Glamorgan Council said it would begin a pilot by webcasting coverage of its monthly planning meetings – thus enabling the council to claim the £40,000. German-made Siemens remotely operated tv cameras were discreetly installed.
Meanwhile over £248,000 was also spent on re-furbishing the council chamber and providing comfy new chairs for the councillors, 60 of which cost £786 each.
However – when it came to actually televising any council proceedings beyond the planning committee – the councillors suddenly proved to be almost painfully camera-shy .
Over the last three years nothing other than the monthly planning meetings has ever been webcast. Meetings of the full Vale Council were never televised and neither were any of the other committee meetings or ‘cabinet’ meetings – even though many are held in the same fully-equipped council chamber .
The television coverage of the Vale Planning Committee itself turned out to be sporadic. Sometimes complete meetings were missed. On other occasions the pictures were almost too out-of-focus to enable any councillors to be recognised .
Recordings of one planning meeting in September last year, which discussed a contentious scheme to transport furnace ash from the Viridor waste facility in Cardiff to Barry Docks via Dinas Powys, were censored so that the council-tax-paying public – who pay the councillors’ salaries – would not be able to view sequences in which concerned local people brought what was purported to be a sample of furnace “ash” into the chamber.
Some non-Labour councillors say it’s high time the live tv streaming service and archive video recordings were provided for every council meeting and council committee meeting and that it’s a travesty that so many meetings are held with no video made of what is actually said.