‘Council meet is no Corrie’

Council meetings will not be filmed ... for the time being
Council meetings will not be filmed ... for the time being

WIGAN Council will not film their own meetings before refurbishments to the Town Hall have been completed arguing it would not be cost effective.

Leader Lord Peter Smith said demand for live streaming does not match the costs as proceedings are not “an episode of Coronation Street.”

Representatives voted through the recommendation to delay the decision at the latest meeting of the full council this week.

Local government minister Eric Pickles MP announced plans in November to introduce legislation giving people the right to report, film, blog and tweet from council proceedings.

Coun Gareth Fairhurst criticised the decision to delay stating the cabinet had missed an opportunity to be “open and transparent.”

The Standish Independent, who called for proceedings to be digitally recorded throughout 2013, said: “Yes, we can tell residents to come and sit in the public gallery but often when we debate big issues people are turned away.

“(If the meetings were filmed) no-one would need to come back to any of us and ask what’s going on at these meetings. The council has big decisions to make and we could have been completely engaged with the public.

“I am disappointed we are failing to do that.”

Members of the public and the press are by law allowed to attend meetings but recordings have been prohibited to date.

Lord Smith said streaming meetings live on their website would not be cost effective.

He said: “We have looked at this matter in depth.

“If we are trying to be engaged with the public there is a lot more we can be do apart from this.

“The councils who have done this, the viewing figures don’t match an episode of Coronation Street and it is relatively expensive.

“We can be more transparent in different ways and are doing that. This would not be the way forward at the moment.”

Mr Pickles MP said the changes - part of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill - would “unlock the mysteries of local government, making it more transparent for all.”

He said: “This will be the key to helping bloggers and tweeters, as well as journalists.

“My department is standing up for press freedom.”

The Evening Post has been providing a live twitter feed from meetings since last year.