Dunstable Town Council has voted for transparency, at a cost of £25,000
At this weeks Finance and General Purposes Committee held on 15th March 2021, The Town Council considered proposals for the purchase of adequate Audio and Visual equipment necessary to be able to live stream and record every meeting of the town council once we return to Grove House council chamber. The move comes as the timeframe for reopening of council services was reviewed by Dunstable Town Council outlining that council meetings are likely to remain online until after 21st June.
A report was presented to the council detailing three options of varying levels of technology. Each increase in tech came with a corresponding cost increase in price. Unfortunately, due to the room we were going to be broadcasting from, it was necessary to choose the most expensive option as it was also the least invasive of all the options. The wireless technology that was proposed will mean that there will be minimal disruption to the listed building as all the infrastructure required will be portable and will not need to be attached to the room which we use for our council meetings.
There was only one official rejection to the proposal in general. Northfields Dunstable Town Councillor and Central Bedfordshire Councillor, Johnson Tamara, objected to spending money on the audio and visual equipment that will increase transparency and open the workings of the council to the entire public, giving you the opportunity to view any meeting of the council you wish at any time you wish. I would try to put Cllr Tamara’s opinions forward for you, but I do not wish to mis-represent him. Ironically, should the meeting have been recorded you would be able to hear his protestation as it happened but unfortunately it was not recorded.
There are many reasons for the council to make the move to live streaming of the meetings.
Dunstable Town Council can be responsible for over £2.3million of spending and has over a million pound of reserved public money
Though minutes of meetings are published by the council, they are not recorded verbatim. Often things are said by council members and opinions are expressed that may be in the public interest to know, which are not recorded in the minutes
The majority of voting is not recorded at all. Voting on any mater by the council is only officially recorded if a recorded vote is requested by a council member
This can massively improve accessibility of previous meetings. Though members of the public are allowed to attend meetings, this may not be feasible for many members of the public
Hybrid meetings. It will be possible with the technology available, members who normally would not have been able to make it to council chambers will be able to attend virtually
For me personally, I think this is a massive move forward for Dunstable Town Council. I first requested that this issue be brought to Finance and General Purposes Committee in October 2019 when an issue arose over the recording of the minutes of Dunstable Joint Committee (which I do not believe it is the responsibility of DTC to record as it is arranged by Central Bedfordshire Council) which brought the subject of the recording of meetings to my attention.
Northfields Ward Councillor, Dunstable Town Council
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