Welcome to this week’s editorial, Well that was an interesting week in local politics. Tuesday’s Council meeting saw councillors vote seven against two to remove the live streaming of Public Forum as the Mayor said it presented a risk to Council that someone might randomly say something defamatory, refer to somebody or reveal information about someone and as the community were not to be trusted it was justification enough to remove the live streaming of community presentations to councillors that have been webcast and video recorded for the many in the community and the 40% of non-resident ratepayers to watch. Council instead opted to retain the Public Forum and invite the public to their website where they will be able to find a written copy of all future presentations. Their decision did not go down well with Council-watchers who strongly advised that if they chose that path they would become the only council in South East NSW that does not record and provide access to video archives of Public Forum presentations. As you can imagine social media went ballistic at the announcement and the following days saw the Mayor trying to claw her way out of what has now become an embarrassment for her council with two councillors (being McGinlay and Mayne) openly stating that Council got it wrong Councillor Mayne declared it a sad day for Community Engagement saying:
“Public Forums provide the community the chance to speak to agenda items. This will continue, though you will have to actually be in the Chamber to hear them now. So much for using contemporary media communication to engage with our community. Thank you to Clr Pat McGinlay for his amendments. “We tried, though unfortunately the motion got through 7 to 2. Our Council was a leader in this space; being an early adopter of this technology. Now we return to the pack, while Councils around us continue on with this live streaming. Why have we stopped! 50% of Councils still live stream their Public Forums. We are no longer a leader, as we take a large step backwards.”
“So to the house bound, the disabled, the elderly, those working on a Tuesday, the media and so forth, you will no longer be able to watch your fellow community members present to Council. A record of their typed transcript will instead be placed on the Council site.”
“We heard from presenters today that the Chamber is your Town Square! I shared a few thoughts about the need for Transparency and Engagement. How does removing this medium do anything to grow transparency? Shire's Delivery Program has a number of pillars, one of them being: a Collaborative and Engaged Community.
“Suffice to say, I am very disappointed and think that today was an unfortunate chapter in our Shire's history. I am yet to hear a good reason Why Council would walk backwards from live streaming Public Forums." The cohort of seven will now carry their decision “moving forward” to the 2020 election and the removal of a means of a popular and essential engagement will not be forgotten by the community. Until next, Lei