Video camera

Article by William Ryan: BillericayTown councillors are divided over whether to allow their meetings to be recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

The proposal, put forward by Councillor Marie Dear, was discussed at the full council meeting on July 30.

Councillors debated whether they felt it was right their meetings, which are open to the public, should be uploaded so residents unable to attend can listen to them.

Chairman Cllr Jim Devlin said he backed the idea but insisted the council must look at the practicalities of the project.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Chairman Cllr Jim Devlin"]There is a solution but how much is it going to cost? I would say it's about three to six months before we have an answer because we have a lot of people to talk to. We have to look at how we're going to record it. We had a brief chat with Basildon Council and it actually has a microphone for every member.[/quote]

Cllr Devlin said he fears the cost would be "very expensive". He continued:

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Devlin"]There's no point doing it if we can't do it properly, as that would just be worse than not doing it at all. If it's going to be in the thousands, is it worth it, because how many people will actually listen to it? Can we justify spending taxpayers' money on something that might be considered a 'vanity project'? I think if it costs £12,000 it won't go ahead but if it costs £1,000 it probably will.[/quote]

Cllr Devlin said it is most likely the sound would be recorded and then uploaded to YouTube.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Devlin"]Anything you do that makes the council more open and available is a good idea. It's all to do with transparency and openness. What we will probably do is at the end of the investigation is publicise the idea, how much it is going to cost and see what people say.[/quote]

At the full council meeting, which was held at Crown Yard in the High Street, eight town councillors backed the plans, while four voted against them.

West ward Councillor Adam Adshead said he thinks uploading the audio would encourage democracy.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Councillor Adam Adshead"]It's a great way of giving more people the opportunity to find out what goes within council meetings. It's a way of trying to encourage more people to understand what the council does and to take an interest in what's actually happening. It's democratic – it's all to do with democracy. Other councils, such as Basildon and Essex County Council, record meetings so why not us?[/quote]

But other councillors were more sceptical about the idea.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by East ward Councillor Daphne Spencer"]I'm not comfortable with the idea at all. You have to be very careful what you say at meetings. They're saying there are people that can't come to meetings but I don't care what you say, I think if someone wanted to do something they would come.[/quote]

Article by William Ryan, Ongar Gazette

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