Redbridge could broadcast council meetings

The bluff and bluster of Redbridge Council meetings could be brought into focus when they are broadcast live on the internet.

Everything from Punch and Judy politics to soporific lengthy reports in Redbridge Town Hall chamber would feature under plans approved by the cabinet this week.

The �20,000 per year scheme, would use four fixed cameras and microphones to broadcast events live on the internet, as well as being available to view in online archives. A final decision on the scheme will be made at a full council meeting.

Deputy council leader, Cllr Ian Bond, welcomed the move “in principal”.

He added: “But members need to consider whether the cost is appropriate in these difficult economic times.”

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Live webcasting is carried out in neighbouring Havering, which began streaming cabinet and full council �meetings in 1998.

Havering Council says 40-50 people access each council meeting live online, and up to 400 people will access the archive after the event.

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Labour leader Jas Athwal said broadcasting council meetings was a “fantastic” idea that would give added transparency to business in the chamber, but the council can’t afford the expenditure.

He said: “I hope that it comes in to place as soon as possible but we need to wait until there is more money in the kitty.

“We can’t afford to pay into something like this while people are losing their jobs.”

Proceedings in the House of Commons have been broadcast live since 1989 but were opposed by the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Council leader Cllr Keith Prince told the cabinet meeting : “This isn’t necessarily a contentious issue, but it is not really for cabinet to �decide.”

Suggesting business discussed in the council chamber would not make gripping viewing, Cllr Prince quipped: “Those people suffering �insomnia will also be able to watch us in the evenings.”

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