Friday, 3 July 2015

Speech I made to West Berks Council calling for meetings to be webcast

I believe that it is true to say that all councils could do more to engage with their residents. Residents are usually not aware of decisions being taken by the council on their behalf unless alerted by the local press, campaign groups or local members. They usually get to know even less about the reasons why particular decisions are taken. Web-casting meetings is one way to start addressing this, though much else needs to be done. Many councils have introduced web-casting, including:
  • Hampshire County
  • South Oxfordshire District
  • Waverley District
  • Woking Borough
  • Guildford Borough
  • Plymouth City
  • West Sussex
  • Cornwall Council
I also understand that the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority is considering its introduction.

I am not saying that everything we discuss will be lapped up by our residents! However, very many will be interested in decisions like that on the Housing Site Allocations DPD to be taken in the autumn. Probably many more that be accommodated in this small chamber. Many people potentially affected by tonight's decision on the CPO would probably have liked to be able to follow the discussion.

Residents are often very interested in planning applications that affect them or their community. Our district is large and some residents have to travel long distances to attend planning committee meetings. For example, those who live in places like Hungerford, Lambourn or Thatcham.

Some of the journeys to meetings cannot be made easily by public transport. Work and childcare commitments often make physical attendance at meetings difficult for residents. However, they could easily watch webcasts from their homes or workplaces.

I am therefore proposing that we investigate the introduction of web-casting all Council, Executive and committee meetings as a first step to improving our communications with our residents.

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