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From County Hall to YouTube: The drama of the council chamber could be beamed to your device

PUBLISHED: 15:13 18 January 2019

The chamber at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Dan Grimmer

The chamber at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Dan Grimmer

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All the twists and turns of the council chamber could soon be available to watch from the comfort of your own laptop, tablet or mobile device.

Labour councillor Dave Rowntree, who proposed live streaming for meetings last year Photo :Steve AdamsLabour councillor Dave Rowntree, who proposed live streaming for meetings last year Photo :Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council is looking into becoming the latest to offer a live streaming service of council meetings, allowing people to engage with the democratic process as it happens.

Next week, County Hall’s digital innovation and efficiency committee will discuss the possibility of introducing the service, with live streaming via YouTube being officers’ top preference.

It comes just short of a year after Labour councillor Dave Rowntree proposed the measure as a motion, which was voted down by the Conservative group on the council.

However, a report to the committee says the issue was then “subsequently” explored by the council.

In the report, council officer Zoe Holmes said: “If the authority wishes to video broadcast meetings live on the Internet, it is suggested the YouTube webcam service is explored as a first step.

“That would give us flexibility to investigate hosted services in future.”

The proposed service could see the council spend up to £20,000 installing cameras in both the council chamber and the Edwards Room at County Hall, which would broadcast the meetings as they take place.

Three cameras would be placed in the council chamber, which would potentially have the ability to zoom on each councillor as they speak - although this function could be sacrificed if it turns out too costly.

The service is proposed to be piloted from May 2019 - exactly a year after the start date Mr Rowntree floated in his failed motion.

If approved, the proposals would see six full county meetings broadcast per year, along with 12 cabinet meetings from the Edwards Room - once the council re-adopts a cabinet model.

The move will bring County Hall up to speed with a number of other councils across the country, including Luton Council, which this week broadcasted a planning decision over a new stadium for Luton Town Football Club, which was also shown at the Hatters’ current ground.

The proposals will be discussed at County Hall on Wednesday, January 23.

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