Council meetings to be broadcast live

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In such a diverse geographical region as Argyll and Bute, with 23 inhabited islands, live streaming council meetings would seem an obvious step to transparency.

Finally, four years after Argyll and Bute Council voted against a motion to live-stream all council meetings, despite a 1,100 signature petition, it is joining the list of Scottish bodies that share their sessions live on the internet.

Live-streaming grants electorates and councillors immediate access to council chambers without having to leave the comfort of their homes and is carried out by many local authorities across Scotland.

As one petitioner wrote: ‘If the great and good in Holyrood can be broadcast live, then shining the light on local democracy can only be a positive step forward in encouraging our youth to be political.’

In 2017, councillors voted along party lines to kick the plan to live-stream council meetings into the long grass and, instead, voted in favour of an amendment to carry out costings. The council had the equipment required, which it used for video conferencing, installed in 2013.

Now plans have been revealed for two key council committee meetings to be streamed live in December as an experiment, ahead of a full roll-out in 2022. Councillors won’t return to the chamber for business until the new year.

The meetings of the policy and resources committee on Thursday December 9 and the audit and scrutiny committee five days later are set to be available to view live.

All councillors on those committees will join the meetings remotely, while the council is looking at starting ‘hybrid’ meetings in January.

These will see members able to join in the council chamber, or from home via Microsoft Teams software.

Training sessions for participation from the chamber are to begin imminently.

No council committee meetings have taken place in person since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with business being conducted remotely.

The details are revealed in a report to go before the full council at its virtual meeting on Thursday November 25.