Web alive with sound of meetings
AUDIO recorded at Town of Cambridge council meetings will be available on its website from September, with the local government also set to weigh up live-streaming official gatherings online.
At a meeting last Tuesday, councillors backed an amended recommendation from councillor Jane Powell who asked recordings be made available to the public within seven days of meetings.
The first audio file will be available following the September council meeting, although Cr Powell’s amendment did ask for the files to be removed after one calendar month.
The Wembley ward councillor said she was all for transparency but was concerned maintaining the recordings could undermine council decisions.
“After the month, we’re on to the next bit, the next meeting and we should be, as a council, standing by the decisions we have made,” she said.
Cr Andres Timmermanis said he had no issue with the audio recordings, which are available through Freedom of Information requests, being available indefinitely.
“They are a matter of public record, they form part of our minutes,” he said.
“I think when you rise to speak on a matter you are conscious of speaking in public.”
Part two of the recommendation suggested the council re-consider live streaming meetings in early 2018 so a budget allocation can be included in the 2018-19 draft budget.
The council estimates it will cost about $35,000 up front for additional equipment including cameras and software and then $500 per meeting.
Figures from the City of Vincent, which began livestreaming council briefings and meetings in May, showed average viewing audiences varied between the councils which offered the service.
Joondalup averages three viewers per meeting from a population of 150,000 people, while Geraldton gets an audience of 25 from 40,000 residents and Bunbury 20 from a population of 35,000. A report to Cambridge councillors said, “on the face of it”, the investment into live streaming may not satisfy a cost benefit analysis based on the low figures elsewhere.
“A cheaper and more cost effective option would be to make audio recordings available on the Town’s website, and would provide the opportunity to monitor the demand for the service,” the report said.
“If there is sufficient demand, then the council could decide to further invest in the live streaming equipment and provide that level of service.”
Cr councillor Jane Powell.