The pros and cons of council meetings held in chambers

The Beagle Editor,

Whilst Council returns to ‘normal’ tomorrow with the first of its Post Covid council meetings returning to the Council Chamber there is a downside. That is, anyone interested in watching the Public Forum presentations will no longer be able to do so from the comfort of their own home via Zoom, as has been the case for nearly a year. It is more than evident that Council has the technology to live stream Public Forum and Public Access sessions. They have their own website and portal and they have nearly worked out how to use Zoom. While Council decided it would not Live Stream these sessions via their own website portal they were required to make both Public Forums publicly accessible via Zoom during the Covid period of 20/21 to anyone who registered to view. In doing so it made a mockery of their staff led decision to no longer live stream Public Forum claiming that to do so exposed them to opportunities by the community to grand stand, defame and insult. During the Zoom Public Forum and Public Access of the last year there has been no evidence at all of any of these elements that Council used to vote to discontinue Live Streaming.

It is time Councillors revisit the issue of Live Streaming and recording of Public Access/Public Forum sessions as part of the Council's Community Engagement. The pedantics of whether they form part of a meeting under Council's Code of Meeting Practice is little more than a smoke screen to control the narrative. Perhaps a brave Councillor might put a Notice of Motion for these sessions to be made available to the public as they once were, and are in many other Councils for the benefit and inclusion of their communities.

While this brave councillor is at it, he/she might also like to suggest Council staff notify the public of upcoming meetings/agendas/information on how to attend/present to Council via its social media pages, and to bring the current adopted Code of Meeting Practice in line with the Model (Mandatory) Code of Meeting Practice as set down by the Office of Local Government.

Coral Anderson

Our Council Our Say