Council meetings could go live on the internet

Cllr Billy Webb
Cllr Billy Webb
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RATEPAYERS could soon be able to keep a watchful eye on how local councillors spend their hard-earned cash after one elected representative proposed that council meetings should be broadcast live on the internet.

Macedon councillor Billy Webb raised the issue at last month’s Policy and Governance Committee meeting, and it was agreed at the full council meeting on March 25 that officers should look into the possibility of using live video streaming from the council chamber.

Speaking to the Times this week, councillor Webb said he believed the move would bring more openness and transparency to local government, allowing more people to hear the discussions that take place, and understand the decisions taken at Mossley Mill. And he revealed that council officers have already been in contact with Belfast City Council, which already uses live video streaming, to discuss the issue.

“The public elected us, so they should be entitled to see and hear what we do on their behalf and for their benefit.

“I have always been an advocate of more openness and transparency in the council and tried some years ago to get committee meetings open to the public. There was a reluctance then from other members, and so it was defeated.

“I reintroduced the concept of having meetings open to the public earlier last year and this was accepted. Although not widely publicised, there have been some members of the public who have attended,” he commented.

“In today’s technological world it is possible to have live broadcasts of proceedings and I think this might help us all engage better with the electorate. I know there is a school of thought that confidentiality might be breached when we deal with certain issues, but Belfast Council have resolved this issue and I am sure Newtownabbey will be able to do the same.

“I am hopeful that when officers have completed their investigation into costs etc that we will have live broadcasting from Newtownabbey,” the Alliance man added.