Bristol Council doesn’t need to air webcast of every council meeting, says Labour councillor

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“Where you’re going through the mechanics [of getting something passed] there is nothing to watch”

A Bristol City Council project to make available webcasts of all council meetings cost it GBP 100,000 to set up and while some meetings attracted over 14,000 viewers, others were watched by only three to four people, a freedom of information request has revealed, and deputy leader of the Labour group Ron Stone has said that the authority does not need to broadcast every meeting.

The project was started in 2008 and according to the BBC, “a Freedom of Information request revealed three people watched the live cabinet meeting on 31 May last year about recommendations for improvements to the Carriage Works in Stokes Croft… Four people watched the live cabinet on 4 July when decisions were made on a new Bristol East swimming pool.”

According to Stone: “Where you’re going through the mechanics [of getting something passed] there is nothing to watch. I certainly think the money is well spent, but it needs to be spread over the issues that are going to trigger public interest.” 

However, Dr Jon Rogers, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, believes webcasting is worth the costs and said that though some meetings were not watched live, they were often viewed later: “It has proven to be a very cost effective way of opening up local democracy to thousands of people who would not have previously attended meetings in person…Even the meetings which attract the smallest live views, were then watched by hundreds through our archive facility.”

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