Frivolous thoughts: video-streaming of council meetings in a time of austerity

There is the unlikely trio of Tony Cox, Del Thomas and Jack Monroe all pushing for the live streaming of Southend’s council meetings on the internet.

I will be voting against this proposal.

It is not that I am opposed to the idea in principle. I cannot imagine that many of Southend’s residents will want it confirmed just what a poor public speaker I am, but generally I am for openness and accountability. I suspect this will appeal to the vain and the obsessed, but that is not why I will cast against.

Despite that it might cost very little, setting this up and maintaining it will still have a cost. I cannot agree to this frivolity when the council is shedding 120 jobs, cutting back on essential services, increasing the cost of meals on wheels, has high car park charges, etc.

If I going to be forced to swallow austerity I will be damned if I am going to be expected to support this frippery.

Come the day when money is available, and services are once again getting proper funding, then I will be happy to lend my support. Until then I am not going to have doorstep conversations that run along the lines of “we may have cut your support, but you can now watch us cutting support online”.

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3 Responses to Frivolous thoughts: video-streaming of council meetings in a time of austerity

  1. Julian,

    It isn’t a ‘proposal’ as yet, just a discussion.

    I find your adamance to shut local people out of the Council chamber when they voted those people into those seats in the first place bewildering. When the Council can hand out Jubilee medals to school kids, laptops to Councillors and tart up its building..?

  2. GraySergeant says:

    Good point Julian. I would be interested to know how much this will cost (probably not much I expect) but still the council must priorities spending.

    I must admit I’m not opposed to it, I can see some of its benefits (but which I think have been overstated by supporters).

    However, as you say there is no demand from residents and what will it achieve?
    It certainly won’t engage people in local politics, anybody viewing it will almost certainly already have an interest. In fact it will probably turn people off local politics, I can’t imagine that the council chamber is fully of lively debate, but rather dull statements and comments which will probably remove anybodies aspiration to get involved.

    I also question how it will really hold councillors to account?
    With what I imagine to be a low number of viewers, residents won’t really be monitoring what their councillors say and do. Rather this is a tool for local councillors/candidates to use on their blogs which will be circulated amongst each other.

    As I say I’m not opposed to the idea, I just need convincing that it really will be effective.

  3. Jack: I repeat – I am not opposed in principle. It is a matter of timing. Set against threats to Sure Start I know where I would rather spend the money. Point taken re your last sentence.

    Gray: It would be used by anoraks like us to illustrate our blogs with examples of poor argument/good argument, etc. I see no real problem with making the inner workings of our democracy viewable by all (although I suspect real debate will disappear behind closed doors), but I re-state my objection: not now, not when we asking pensioners to live with a hike in the price of their meals on wheels.

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