Members of the public are not to be allowed to see live trial TV-coverage of the full Vale of Glamorgan Council.
The five strong ruling ‘cabinet’ of the Vale of Glamorgan Council is to consider tomorrow a recommendation allow tv coverage of monthly full council meetings to be recorded for the purpose of internal reviews – but that the pictures and sound of this coverage should not be broadcast on the internet.
At the moment only the meetings of the Vale Council’s planning committee are streamed live on the internet – despite pressure for the council to broadcast all its proceedings. This is despite the thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money which has been spent on adapting the council chamber, in Barry, for television.
Closed circuit tv cameras were commissioned in 2013 and first installed in the Vale Council’s council chamber in 2014 – paid for by £40,000 provided under a UK Government initiative to promote “greater transparency” in local government .
But the spending didn’t stop there. The Labour-run Vale Council spent over £248,000 on refurbishing the council chamber in 2013 and providing new chairs for the councillors, 60 of which cost £786 each. It’s now understood the council chamber is to be re-carpeted.
Only now has the Vale Council’s “Democratic Services” department has produced a report recommending that television coverage should be extended beyond meetings of the planning committee to the monthly meetings of the full Vale Council .
However the Democratic Services report points out that there are difficulties in arranging coverage of the full council – compared with that of the planning committee. It says:-
- More councillors – 47 of them – attend the full council meetings compared with the 21 who are on the planning committee
- Under the Vale Council’s Constitution all councillors are required to stand-up to speak in full council meetings – whereas in meetings of the planning committee they remain seated when they speak. That means that in full council meeting, cameras would need to be constantly adjusted so as not to focus on the midriffs of standing councillors during their perorations.
Another problem – not referred to in the report – is that councillors will have to remember to switch their individual microphones on and off when they speak . In the planning committee they often forget to do so – resulting in councillors not being heard or not being seen . (The switches also control he remote control cameras ).
The ostensible reason for not broadcasting ‘Cabinet’ meetings is because a council officer would have to be on duty at each meeting and that “in the current climate, in which savings are constantly having to be effected, it is not considered that incurring additional staffing costs of such a scale could be justified.”