Councils to screen meetings online in £1.25m project

Keyboard Monmouthshire council is spending £85,000 on webcast facilities

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More councils are set to screen their meetings online so taxpayers can watch from home.

It comes as £1.25m is set aside to install broadcast equipment in council chambers to "improve local democracy".

Monmouthshire council is spending £85,000 on webcast facilities at its new HQ at Usk.

Powys council has already screened several meetings online with 10,000 page views for a contentious debate about plans for wind farms.

Now, other councils across Wales say they are looking to make their meetings more widely open to the public without the need to attend.

And the equipment being used also means councillors can attend remotely using an internet connection and a computer.

The funding has been announced by local government and communities minister Carl Sargeant.

Social media

He said: "In a modern democracy, the development of the communications technology means that members of the public should be able to see how decisions affecting their everyday lives are taken."

BBC Wales asked the 22 local authorities in Wales about their plans with Ceredigion, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen saying they are looking to make their meetings available online.

Powys said it screened its first meeting - about wind farm plans - in July 2011 when 1,500 watched followed by subsequent debates viewed online by 3,000 and 10,000 people respectively.

At Anglesey the authority broadcasts audio of its planning meetings online.

And Monmouthshire council says it already has the technology to allow members to attend regular committees remotely.

The deputy leader, councillor Bob Greenland, has presented items to two council meetings remotely, on one occasion when he was in Salt Lake City in Utah, USA.

Some of the councils said they were also considering policies allowing their meetings to be broadcast or transmitted live via social media sites like Twitter.

Wrexham council is due to reconsider its policy after hitting the headlines in December when a councillor was called out of a meeting and told not to post live updates on the website via his mobile phone.

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