Friday, 19 August 2011

Planning meetings should be webcast

The Lindley Moor Plaque. Could webcasting have saved the site from development?
Webcasting council meetings has been a very successful initiative that was originally proposed in a Green Party motion to Council a few years ago. The council certainly took its time implementing webcasting but we now regularly have hundreds of people logging on and seeing how their elected representatives are acting on their behalf. To a large extent they see it warts and all. Full Council and Cabinet meetings are webcast but not Planning Committee meetings. We have recently had some interesting and controversial items at Huddersfield Area Planning Committee such as the proposed developments of housing and a data centre at Lindley Moor. No doubt many people would have logged on to watch if it were possible.  I guess the Councils main concern is that webcasting may aid applicants who appeal to the Secretary of State against decisions that are made against them.  If those decisions were made on the basis of flawed logic, dodgy arguments and didn't show Councillors in a particularly good light then that is something the Council might not want displayed for all to see. My own view is that if we are to see standards rise  then transparency through webcasting of Planning meetings can only make things better. If meetings aren't webcast then the only option for many who want a 'live feed' will be to follow those 'tweeting' from the Council meeting and you would certainly lose a lot of the drama and nuances e.g. the rapturous applause from the public for Cllr Khan as he supported building on Lindley Moor at the last Planning Meeting. Okay that's not the reaction he got, but if meetings were webcast you'd know that for sure!

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