Lib Dem wants more live webcasting of East Sussex County Council meetings

John Ungar speaking at a council meeting being webcast. He wants to extend the webcasting facilities to cover all scrutiny meetings
John Ungar speaking at a council meeting being webcast. He wants to extend the webcasting facilities to cover all scrutiny meetings

Calls to extend the webcasting of council meetings in East Sussex are to be discussed by councillors next week.

East Sussex County Council will consider a motion on Tuesday (December 4) put forward by Eastbourne councillor John Unger (Lib Dem), which calls on the council to live broadcast meetings of its scrutiny committees online.

The council already broadcasts a number of its public meetings but leaves others un-broadcasted – including two out-of-three of its scrutiny committees, which aim to hold cabinet decision-making to account.

However the council’s governance committee is recommending the motion be refused, after a review of the council’s scrutiny arrangements in March concluded that webcasting could ‘hinder’ proceedings.

The report said: “Some members have suggested that webcasting scrutiny committees can hinder effective member participation.

“Cabinet and full council meetings are webcast and it is at these meetings where the outcomes of scrutiny work are visible and the discussion itself of greater public interest.

“There is therefore a good case against the automatic webcasting of meetings of the place and people scrutiny committees.”

East Sussex County Council currently runs three scrutiny committees; place, people and health.

The place scrutiny committee looks at decision-making related to council-owned buildings, land and transport. The people scrutiny committee, meanwhile, looks at decision-making related to social services, education and other similar services.

The health scrutiny committee – better known as HOSC – stands a special case however, and sees councillors examine the decision-making of health authorities within East Sussex.

The committee includes representatives from each of the district councils within East Sussex and is regularly webcasted.

In the review from March, a council spokesman said:  “On some occasions, its meetings have attracted thousands of webcast views.

“The media and external partners regularly view HOSC webcasts due to the public interest in the subject matter.

“It is therefore recommended that HOSC meetings continue to be webcast.”

The matter is set to be discussed at a full council meeting on Tuesday, December 4.