The Leader of Peterborough City Council, councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, has assured members of the Full Council at their meeting that live streaming will continue.
Councillor Fitzgerald was responding to a question put to him by councillor Sandford, which asked: “Giving members of the public easy access to council meetings online is an important part of openness and accountability.
“Please could the leader of the council tell me why meetings of Full Council, the Cabinet and Planning Committee are currently being live streamed, but most scrutiny committees are not.
“In the past we have live streamed all public meetings, so why has this practice been discontinued?”
Delays on Bourges Boulevard in Peterborough city centre due to blaze
Anglian Water says they still have no hosepipe ban plans - despite driest summer for more than 30 years
Police name 28-year-old truck driver killed in A47 crash near Peterborough
Police launch CCTV appeal after assault in Lincoln Road in Peterborough
UK drought 2022: Anglian Water ‘won’t hesitate’ to introduce hosepipe ban if homes ‘reckless’ with water
Live streaming costs £150
Back in October 2021, the matter of live streaming of Peterborough City Council meetings was discussed by the group leaders
Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald said at that meeting he was happy that “all and any meetings” could be live streamed if there was no additional cost to the council.
He said: “We did agree to immediately live stream any meetings that was deemed to be of high public interest, which we continue to do.
“Officers were then tasked with looking at costings for live streaming all meetings and options to purchase equipment to hold hybrid meetings, and it has been confirmed that to live stream a meeting costs £150 and we currently pay this for Planning and Cabinet.
“As there are 16 scrutiny meetings and two joint meetings left in this municipal year, the additional cost as now would be £2,700 plus VAT, but would probably be higher than that if we adopted it for a full year.”
Prior to the first lockdown during the COVID pandemic in March 2020, only Full Council meetings were live streamed on the Peterborough City Council YouTube channel.
However, with councillors forced to work from home, from April 2020 it was agreed that as many committee meetings as possible would be live streamed and these began in May of that year.
Over the past two years, Peterborough has seen the growth of its’ 5G capability increase with the city one of the first outside of London to have much of the centre of the city available in the 5G network.
With the move to Sand Martin House and resumption of face-to-face meetings earlier this year, 5G live streamed meetings have been available and the list of what can and what cannot be watched is on the council website.
‘Fully support live streaming’
Councillor Fitzgerald went on to explain further: “I’m also aware that the independent Chair of the Audit Committee has asked for their meetings to be live streamed due to the high profile of the nature of their work.
“However, to do so would add an additional £750 plus VAT per meeting for those which are agreed.
“Officers, at my recommendation, purchased four ‘Meeting Owls’.”
The ‘Meeting Owl’ is a 360° smart video conferencing camera lens showing the entire room.
He added: “These ‘Meeting Owls’ are available to anybody in the council who wants to use them along with additional equipment for the purpose of live streaming meetings on YouTube or Facebook which of course would incur no additional costs to the council.
“In the meantime, we will continue to live stream any meeting that officers of members feel is of a high public interest.
“I understand that since our meeting back in October 2021, the world has changed and technology has moved on, we’ve all had to learn how to use Teams and Zoom and live streaming is something I fully support and here to stay.”
Councillor Sandford responded: “I do welcome the leader’s enthusiasm for live streaming, because I do believe that this is a welcome aspect of local authorities becoming more transparent in their activities.”