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Online streaming of meetings planned to help transparency at two councils

PUBLISHED: 07:30 01 March 2019

The upgrades in the council chamber will allow meetings from Endeavour House to be streamed online for homes in the Babergh and Mid Suffolk district. Picture: ARCHANT

The upgrades in the council chamber will allow meetings from Endeavour House to be streamed online for homes in the Babergh and Mid Suffolk district. Picture: ARCHANT

Work is underway to allow live streaming of council meetings that will improve transparency.

Babergh council leader John Ward (left) with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley said it would improve transparency and access to council meetings. Picture: PAUL GEATERBabergh council leader John Ward (left) with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley said it would improve transparency and access to council meetings. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Technology improvements are being developed to allow live streaming of council meetings that will improve transparency.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils moved from their offices in Hadleigh and Needham Market into Endeavour House, Ipswich, in October 2017 as part of cost-cutting measures.

Following concerns that members of the public in those districts may not be able to get to Ipswich to attend meetings should they wish, measures are now being developed that will allow full council meetings to be streamed online.

Upgrades to the camera systems in the main council chamber have already been completed, with work now being planned for upgrading the microphones and voting systems in April that will allow the meetings to be broadcast.

In a joint statement, Conservative council leaders John Ward (Babergh) and Nick Gowrley (Mid Suffolk) said: “Suffolk County Council is upgrading the technology in the shared council chamber in April which will make it possible to webcast meetings via YouTube.

“Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils plan to use this facility from then as a way of making important council decision making more open, transparent and accessible to our residents.”

During the February full council debate on Mid Suffolk’s budget, the Green group had called for more meetings to be streamed to help aid accountability and transparency.

John Matthissen from the Green group said: “We are very much in favour of it as part of a number of things to improve openness and transparency.

“We need the problems up front and central because they are the ones that need attention but unfortunately there is a very strong tendency to try and protect reputations.”

At Babergh District Council, the Labour group has submitted a motion for all full council meetings to be filmed and streamed live on the council’s website or social media accounts.

Labour councillor Luke Cresswell said: “We cannot allow ourselves to be hidden in a bunker far removed from those we are supposed to represent.

“This motion would shine light on what goes on at the council and allow residents to check in on their councillors.

“It’s time the council dragged itself into the 21st century and embraced the modern world.”

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