Following the lovely Eric Pickles’ recent announcement regarding broadcasting and recording council meetings, Tim & I decided to be the first members of the public to do just that. A few weeks ago we recorded our first meeting and repeated the experience last week at a full council meeting at Chicksands, Shefford. The agenda item we were most keen to broadcast was a proposal that the council should record and broadcast their own meetings – this policy would serve two purposes, it would enable the public to better connect with them and also give them some protection when/if their decisions or discussions were questioned. The vote was unanimously in favour of going ahead with the plan and so we should be able to watch future meetings online very soon.
As a Labour member, I must admit to feeling a little outnumbered in the chamber – Central Bedfordshire Council is extremely conservative in its make-up. HOWEVER, the staff and Councillors were all exceptionally welcoming and bent over backwards to provide us everything we needed for both historical, successful events. After the meeting several Councillors came over to meet us and talk about the experience and without exception, they were very happy with how it went.
The meeting itself was a pleasure to be at, local politics is as fascinating as is national – the topics discussed included the Luton/Dunstable Busway (which has proved to be a massive success), Council Tax charges and what help (not very much) is being provided for the thousands of residents who are currently in arrears, a proposed Gypsy & Traveller site and a few other topics. At the end came questions from the “opposition” – the non-Tory Councillors. This was wonderful to watch, like a watered-down PMQs but without all the silly jibes/heckling that takes place every Wednesday in Parliament! Questions were actually answered and as a result, progress was made. John Bercow has done a great job as Speaker but there is still so much to do in this regard. One of my earliest blogposts ( Muppet MPs ) was on this subject and very little seems to have changed since.
We hope to be live-tweeting as well as broadcasting future council meetings so, if you’re as mad about politics as we are – watch this space–>> http://www.ustream.tv/channel/flitwick (View it through IE not Chrome to get the volume, yes I know its nuts!)