Question from: County Councillor Graham Breeze Subject: Access to meetings
The decision to deny the press and public the right of live access to Scrutiny, Planning and other committee meetings is a direct contradiction of the Leader of Council’s title as the Cabinet Member for an Open & Transparent Powys. Prior to the Covid restrictions being put in place the press and public had open access to committee meetings. During Covid restrictions the press and public had Zoom or Teams access to committee meetings. Now they are only offered a recording facility which is totally unacceptable.
1. Would the Portfolio Holder please explain why the press and public are not being allowed live access to Scrutiny and Planning Committee meetings via Zoom or Teams
2. Would the Portfolio Holder give an assurance that this service will be immediately reinstated.
3. Would the Portfolio Holder please confirm that it is a legal duty of the council to provide access to the press and public.
Response by the Cabinet Member:
Thank you for your Question and my sincere apologies for the delay in responding.
The decision to not transmit Scrutiny, Planning and other committee meetings live was not one taken by the current council Leader or Administration. In setting its draft 2022/23 Council Budget the previous Administration only allocated sufficient funds to enable the live broadcasting of council Cabinet and County Council meetings via the Zoom system. Council approved the Budget in February 2022.
The use of Zoom as the council’s preferred broadcasting platform was chosen due to its ability to provide effective Welsh translation facilities.
All other committee meetings are recorded and made available on the council’s website within two working days.
Council officers are currently exploring the options to allow the live broadcasting of all council committee meetings and identifying the funds from within the approved budget to allow that to happen. It is my firm desire as Leader and Cabinet Member for a Transparent & Open Powys that the council should achieve that aim as soon as possible.
I can also confirm that it is a legal duty for the Council to provide access to meetings for press and public and although I am advised that the current arrangements do meet both that legal duty and current guidance from Welsh Government to Welsh local authorities I wish to extend current practice to make the Council’s deliberations more open and accessible than they currently are.