Calderdale only authority in region not to stream meetings

Interior of Halifax town hall, which has been listed as one of the top ten town halls in the country to visit
Council chambers
Interior of Halifax town hall, which has been listed as one of the top ten town halls in the country to visit Council chambers

Calderdale Council is now the only local authority in West Yorkshire which doesn’t afford its residents the opportunity to view council meetings online it has been revealed.

In a report by Ian Hughes, the head of democratic and partnership services at Calderdale Council, he said the Council is looking at options in making meetings more accessible to residents.

He said: “Calderdale Council has a commitment to openness and transparency in its decision-making process. However, there are many people who, for reasons of health, work, care commitments or other factors, are unable to witness this process in person.

“In 2016/2017, more pressure is being applied to how local government transforms its services to improve the way it delivers services and engages with the community.

“Digital transformation is at the forefront of such transformation, and web casting fits under this banner.

“Considerable work has been undertaken in recent years investigating options for both live-streaming (webcasting) and video recording some Council meetings in order to facilitate greater accessibility to Council processes.”

The meetings most likely to be webcast are Full Council, Cabinet and Planning Committee, as these generally attract most public interest.

Soft market testing was undertaken in early 2015, in addition to site visits to other local authorities who were already webcasting meetings.

A fixed system has been investigated which would involve up to four cameras within the Chamber. These are of the pan-tilt-zoom variety and operated remotely.

Software ensures that the correct camera focusses on the person who is currently speaking.

There would still a requirement for a member of staff to be on hand, but they can be sited either at a position within the Chamber where they would not distract the meeting, or even in a different room in the building.