MPs are today (Monday, November 4) debating plans to open up council meetings and ensure they are accessible and permit filming, blogging and tweeting.
Torbay’s prospective Labour Mayoral Candidate, Cllr Darren Cowell, has welcomed the move. He said: “I welcome any move that knocks away the mystery of council decision-making. For far too long members of the community do not feel they are part of the decision-making process – and all too often they are probably right.
“I am one of a few Torbay councillors that tweet live from various council meetings – I think it is right that we carry the debate out of the corridors of power and in to people’s hands. I am delighted that Torbay Council will be webcasting its’ first ever council meeting on December 5. When I asked full council to do this I fully expected a ‘no we can’t afford it’, but by asking for volunteers it is happening.
“Cllr Alison Hernandez, who won online councillor of the year last year, has worked with Torbay Social Media Cafe to make this landmark webcast happen. Like me, she is a great believer in transparency and recognises the value of social media.
“I hope that Torbay council will be far more relaxed about members of the public and journalist recording and broadcasting all of our meetings in the future. At a time of significant challenge with the government cuts we have to be much closer to the communities we serve.
“Interestingly the Communities Secretary has also hit out at councils that persist in having behind closed doors meetings. Therefore, I hope that the Mayor opens up his Policy Development Groups, should they continue, to public scrutiny. It is a disgrace that for the Mayor to pledge to open, transparent and democratic governance when these meetings still take place behind closed doors.”