AGENDA ITEM NO.5
EXECUTIVE BOARD
MARCH 18TH 2013

WEBCASTING OF COUNCIL MEETINGS

Purpose: To seek approval for a Pilot of 12 months to film Council meetings and webcast them live to the Internet via the Council’s website from the Council Chamber in County Hall.

RECOMMENDATIONS / KEY DECISIONS REQUIRED:
To proceed with a One Year pilot for the filming of Council meetings, subject to procurement regulations. There are three options put forward for the Board’s consideration

That towards the end of the pilot period a review be undertaken to establish whether the webcasting of meetings had been successful in promoting local democracy and public engagement.

REASONS:
The Council at its meeting held on 12th December 2012 noted and endorsed the decision of the Executive Board at its meeting held on 19th November 2012 to agree in principle to a pilot project for the broadcasting of council meetings to take place subject to a detailed report on costs.
Funding has now been made available by Welsh Government to enable the live broadcasting of Council meetings via the Council’s website.
It should also be noted that the Council also decided to confirm the recommendation of the Business Management Group, that members of the public would not be allowed to film meetings until the pilot on broadcasting meetings has taken place and been evaluated.
The recommendation following detailed research is to proceed with a One Year Pilot for the filming of Council Meetings.

Relevant scrutiny committee to be consulted
YES Policy and Resources committee on October 12th 2012

Exec Board Decision Required YES
Council Decision Required NO /

Directorate
Name of Head of Service: Chris Burns

Report Author: Noelwyn Daniel

Designations: Assistant Chief Executive Customer Care & Policy

Performance and Information Manager

Tel Nos. 01267 224112
CBurns@sirgar.gov.uk

01267 224476
NDaniel@sirgar.gov.uk

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
EXECUTIVE BOARD
MARCH 18TH 2013

WEBCASTING OF COUNCIL MEETINGS

Since the recommendations of the Task & Finish Review on E-Government were made on the filming of Council meetings there have been some significant developments in relation to this issue from the Minister.

In early November the WLGA suggested that it may have some funding available for Authorities wishing to explore the potential of webcasting Council meetings. Interested authorities attended a meeting hosted by the WLGA and it became clear that many other local authorities were in the same position as Carmarthenshire.

The Minister for Welsh Government has not legislated in the area of webcasting, but he has the powers to do so. The legislation on remote attendance within the Local Government measure has not yet been enacted and it is expected that the Local Democracy Bill will be taking these matters into account. The 1st draft of the Local Democracy Bill will be available for consultation by the end of 2013 and it is anticipated that Remote Attendance will be a legal requirement in the future.

The Minister’s letter of November 27th showed his support in the area of webcasting and the potential for some funding for start up costs. The Minister’s letter also requested information on the position with regard to webcasting from each authority by December 18th.

The Minister then wrote again to all Authorities on January 28th saying he had 1.25 million to distribute among Council’s to be spent in this financial year to fund the promotion of local democracy and public engagement and wished some of this funding to assist in arrangements to broadcast council meetings.

The funding provision for Carmarthenshire County Council is 40k towards the costs of promoting local democracy (to include webcasting) and an additional 26k for the provision of websites for Town and Community Councils.

Provision for Filming of Council Meetings

Following these announcements from the Minister a second meeting has since been held and facilitated by the WLGA into webcasting. It was attended by 19 local authorities, and representatives from Welsh Government.

    ● Significant concern raised that individual procurement arrangements in each authority seemed inappropriate and costly when this could be done centrally.
    ● It was suggested that as each authority has different needs for infrastructure then these be dealt with locally whilst the webcasting element might be subject to joint procurement.
    ● It was suggested that the WLGA facilitated the creation of a joint specification that would assist joint procurement.

Options Available :

1. Conduct a full independent tender exercise for the provision of a webcasting service for the Authority following the development of a detailed requirements specification.

This would be a time consuming and costly exercise to conduct as a single authority

2. Wait for the conclusion of discussions on a joint procurement exercise facilitated by the WLGA and the potential of a single hosted solution.

This exercise would take a considerable amount of time to co-ordinate because Welsh Authorities are all in a different position regarding their views on the filming of Council meetings.

3. Proceed with a One Year pilot for the filming of Council meeting’s using a proven market leading company, subject to procurement regulations.

This exercise would enable the council to take advantage of the 1.25 million made available by the minister, to be spent in this financial year, to fund the promotion of local democracy and public engagement and assist in arrangements to broadcast council meetings. The Council could also then play a full part in on-going discussions with the WLGA and the potential provision of an All Wales joint procurement

Towards the end of the pilot period a review be undertaken to establish whether the webcasting of meetings had been successful in promoting local democracy and public engagement. Following consideration of the review the Council would decide whether to continue with this service and if so undertake a full tendering exercise for the ongoing provision of webcasting for the following year.

Carmarthenshire County Council is in a better position than other authorities as it has already conducted a detailed review as part of the Task and Finish Review into E-Government and this matter has already been discussed at Executive Board and Council

If the pilot proves successful it may be possible to hire the facility to partner organisations to attract income to offset the administrative costs.

DETAILED REPORT ATTACHED?

No

IMPLICATIONS

I confirm that other than those implications which have been agreed with the appropriate Directors / Heads of Service and are referred to in detail below, there are no other implications associated with this report :
Signed: Chris Burns Assistant Chief Executive

Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities

Legal

Finance

ICT

Risk Management Issues

Staffing Implications

Physical Assets

YES

NONE

YES

NONE

NONE

YES

YES /

Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities
The Council at its meeting held on 12th December 2012 noted and endorsed the decision of the Executive Board at its meeting held on 19th November 2012 to agree in principle to a pilot project for the broadcasting of council meetings to take place subject to a detailed report on costs.

Finance
There is a funding grant being made available to the Council from Welsh Government to assist with promoting Local Democracy and Engagement. Carmarthenshire Council will receive a grant of 76k. This grant can be used towards Remote Attendance, Webcasting and the provision of websites for Town & Community Councils.

Physical Assets
There will be a requirement to install four small cameras in the Council Chamber at County Hall with two of those replacing existing defunct equipment on the walls. The small scale nature of the works will not materially affect the special character of the chamber as part of a listed building.

Staffing Implications
Staff resources will be required to prepare for each meeting in setting up the equipment to record and checking the links to the provider prior to the meeting, inputting relevant documents on the web page prior to the meeting, ensuring the equipment is operating correctly during the meeting. Following the meeting, placing the recording in the archive on the Council’s site with all relevant matters being time linked etc for the meeting. Staff within the Democratic services Unit will need to undergo training to undertake these additional technical roles.
Communications staff will also undergo some training to provide technical support in respect of the Council’s website

CONSULTATIONS

I confirm that the appropriate consultations have taken in place and the outcomes are as detailed below
Signed: Chris Burns Assistant Chief Executive for Customer Focus and Policy

1. Scrutiny Committee Policy and Resources Committee on October 12th 2012
2.Local Member(s) N/A
3.Community / Town Council N/A
4.Relevant Partners N/A
5.Staff Side Representatives and other Organisations N/A

Section 100D Local Government Act, 1972 – Access to Information
List of Background Papers used in the preparation of this report:

Title of Document

File Ref No.

Locations that the papers are available for public inspection

Task and Finish Group report on E Government

 

Policy and Resources Committee o12th October 2012