IN JULY Hedon Town Councillor Sarah Rommell raised the possibility of broadcasting Hedon Town Council meetings live on the internet so that local residents had an additional opportunity to follow the debates and decision-making that takes place at the Town Hall – especially useful for those people who find attending the actual council meetings difficult or impossible.
The prospect of Hedon Council ‘Live’ has now diminished somewhat in that the first system looked at by the council to deliver that service carried a hefty price-tag that put it beyond the capacity of a small local town council. However, there are alternatives that can be investigated.
Live ‘reporting’ from the council chamber could be undertaken with key comments of councillors being broadcast via social media services such as this blog, or on Twitter and Facebook. Agendas and other public documents could be reproduced live as they are used in the meeting for wider public viewing.
An example how this might work was demonstrated by the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Grove who tweeted his experiences as part of a police 999 response team live on Twitter at the beginning of August.
We reproduce his current Twitter feed here, and ask you to imagine it being updated every few minutes. Using the same system, the Hedon Blog could report live from the Council chamber – and it is FREE. The Twitter feed also provides a record of the meeting (from the reporter’s account) which can be kept. Whilst this would never be used as an official record (that’s why minutes of meetings are kept) it would provide a record of interest.Tweets by @HumbersidePCC
— Humberside PCC (@HumbersidePCC) September 27, 2013
There are other systems available too that enable live reporting and live blogging, some which allow for comments and input from members of the public on what is taking place. This would provide second-hand, reported accounts of meetings – and while it doesn’t satisfy Councillor Rommell’s desire to make the meetings themselves accessible on the internet – it does take us a step closer to live broadcasting.
But before we invest a lot of time in researching this, we need to determine whether local residents in Hedon would actually use such a service, want to see what goes on at the Town Hall, and actually follow the meetings? Whilst we would all probably welcome the existence of such a service, they key point is – would we use it!?
This ‘straw-poll’ tries to identify if such a service would be used – but we also welcome your comments and thoughts on this
PS: If there are any digital developers out there with low-cost / no-cost ideas for how we can extend our democracy and encourage participation using the internet – then please get in touch.