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Oxford City Council spends £13,000 filming its decisions but offers no webcasts
CALLS for more Oxford City Council meetings to be filmed and streamed live online have been made after a Government minister called for authorities to be more open.
Green councillors in Oxford have called for meetings of the authority’s powerful executive board to be filmed and for the recordings to be made available online.
The authority already films its full council meetings and uploads videos to its website the following day, a service which cost the authority £13,102.50 on equipment and staff resources in 2012-13.
But in the same year they were viewed just 360 times – compared with more than 22,000 views of Cherwell District Council meetings.
The council, which began filming full council meetings in 2010, estimates it would cost £450 for new software to stream the meetings live.
The calls come after communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles issued guidelines saying councils shouldn’t hide behind data protection or health and safety rules to ban filming in meetings, which is legal.
Green group leader Craig Simmons said: “We are calling for more meetings to be filmed and streamed live as a matter of public record.
“What has happened is the number of full council meetings has been reduced. When I first joined the council there were 10 every year but now there are four or five because a lot of the decisions have been transferred to the executive board and the filming should follow that.”
The council has also faced criticism from members of the public, including Headington resident Nigel Gibson, who was recently told he could not film Wednesday’s city executive board meeting without permission.
He said: “The council says we need permission, but there is no documented process by which you can get that permission.
“What it will reveal, quite honestly, is just what a waste of time these meetings are, because they’re all Labour and they just nod everything through.
“The council has a choice. It can either do it now [allow filming] proactively or wait until it is forced to do so by law.
“Surely the council should want to show how wonderful it is.”
East Oxford resident Sarah Lasenby regularly attends board meetings, and said the council should film them.
She said: “I think it’s become much more important because of Youtube and what people can do with mobile phones now. The council should move with the times.
“What harm would there be in filming the board meetings?”
Oxford City Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “The law in respect of filming or recording has been the same for decades and simply requires the person seeking to film or record the meeting to have the consent of those being filmed or recorded.”
Many councils already film and stream their meetings live on the web, so those who can’t attend can watch from home or work.
South Oxfordshire District Council began webcasts in January 2006. The service costs about £16,875 a year.
Cherwell District Council launched its £19,415-a-year service in 2005.
Kidlington councillor Alaric Rose said: “I think it means we’re more accountable and that if there is a contentious issue, people can watch from home if they can’t attend the meeting.
“I do think it’s worth the money.”
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