Live-streaming council meetings to become law: Janet Finch-Saunders AM welcomes triumph for local democracy

The Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Aberconwy Assembly Member, Janet Finch-Saunders, has spoken of her delight that, after years of her campaigning, the Welsh Labour Government has agreed to make broadcasting of council meetings a statutory requirement.

Janet said:

“I believe in the fundamental importance of openness and transparency in all decisions made by democratically elected individuals.

“However, I was concerned to note last year that some Local Authorities had stopped live streaming cabinet and council meeting, alleging that the monies from the one-off Welsh Government funding to enable this had dried up, despite this infrastructure being in place.

“Live streaming is incredibly important in widening democratic participation and interest. For many people accessing their local council chamber is a huge effort – not only are meetings held during normal working hours, but at council chambers far away from some communities. Take Ysbyty Ifan for example: it’s a 40 minute drive from Bodlondeb, and there is no direct bus.

“Having campaigned on this matter for a number of years since being elected, I have again called on Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, to ensure that councils provide a live streaming service for meetings.

“I am delighted that the Welsh Labour Government have at last seen sense and agreed seek to make broadcasting of council meetings a statutory requirement in forthcoming legislation.

“This is a major triumph for openness and transparency in local democracy, and takes us a step closer towards the Localism enjoyed by many over the border: in England, communities have far more power and involvement in decisions that affect them.”

ENDS

 

Notes

 

Under the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations Act 2014, councils in England are now required to broadcast their meetings. By comparison, in Wales, the Welsh Government merely ‘encourages’ local authorities to allow filming under the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity for Wales 2014. Therefore, while some Councils in Wales broadcast meetings, others may not, creating a patchwork of application.

For more on the Localism Act 2011 (England): click here and here

Janet Finch-Saunders and the Welsh Conservatives: Localism discussion document published

In January 2017, more than a quarter of local authorities in Wales did not live stream full council meetings, and almost two-thirds did not live stream cabinet meetings – see table below:

Attachments

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Written Assembly Question 211.58 KB
Table of Local Authorities 78.67 KB