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Councillors back spending £25,000 on webcasting
BASINGSTOKE council chiefs want to reboot the outdated software and hardware that broadcasts meetings over the internet.
Since 2005, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has posted unedited video “webcasts” of all its meetings held in public.
Councillors sitting on the audit, governance, and accounts (AGA) committee have now supported a £25,000 proposal to upgrade the system. This would mean future council meetings can be viewed live online through a PC or Mac, as well as smartphones and tablets. The footage would then also be archived for later viewing on YouTube.
Currently, webcasts can only be seen on PCs running Windows and through the council’s website.
Basingstoke and Deane is the only Hampshire local authority that streams all meetings. Hampshire County Council – the other county authority that webcasts – only streams Cabinet, and full council meetings.
Supporting the upgrade, Conservative committee member Councillor Horace Mitchell told the AGA meeting: “I am quite proud of the fact that we are one of the councils that, so early in the game, webcasts everything.
“We should not try and do it as cheaply as we can. We should try and do it as best we can.”
And Labour’s Cllr Paul Harvey said: “Webcasting is incredibly important because it is a formal public record of a public meeting.”
But with a one-off £25,000 upgrade cost, and a £2,000 annual bill to run the system, there was some concern that an upgrade is wasting money when the current seven-year-old system does not cost anything to maintain.
Conservative councillor John Leek said: “I am not opposed to it, but I do often question why it is really necessary. I don’t know what the national position is but it doesn’t sound as if there’s a great enthusiasm for it (webcasting).”
The council’s current online archive of 575 videos, which dates back to 2007, is viewed on average 360 times per month.
The final decision on an upgrade will be made by Cllr Ranil Jayawardena, the decision-making Cabinet’s member for strategy.
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