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Agenda Item No. 7

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 9th October 2013

 

Report of the Director of Resources

 

Webcasting of Council Meetings and Remote Attendance

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To inform Members of progress in providing webcasting and remote attendance facilities for Council meetings.

Recommendation

That Members note the content of the report.

Reason for the Recommendation

To ensure Members are made aware of progress and timescales for the introduction of these facilities.

Background

2.             Members will be aware of the recently completed refurbishment of the Council Chamber which has included the provision of microphones, cameras, TV screens and associated software.

3.             Members will also be aware that a grant of £40,000 was made available this financial year by Welsh Government to assist in the development of webcasting and remote attendance at Council meetings.

4.             As part of the terms of accepting the grant, the Council will be piloting, prior to the end of the financial year, webcasting of a small number of meetings.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             The new microphone system had already been procured as part of the improvements to the Council Chamber and Committee meetings in general. The suppliers were asked to provide the video cameras and associated software to ensure that they were compatible with the microphone system.

6.             A separate audio/visual room has been created as part of the Chamber refurbishment which will host the equipment and allow for a technician to monitor the equipment and its correct functioning. Resources will need to be identified to attend Council meetings to provide technical assistance should there be problems with the hardware.

7.             Consideration will need to be given to identifying the most cost effective method of streaming the video footage through the Council’s website.

8.             It is envisaged that members of the public will access the webcasts through the Council’s website and work is progressing with the suppliers of the system to ensure that the links to the website are properly configured and that appropriate staff are properly trained in its use.

9.             Remote attendance is less advanced as concerns about remote voting, accommodating a number of remote attendees at the same time and making sure they have the same opportunity to contribute to the discussions need to be resolved. Procedures about what to do in the event of a breakdown in the technology also to be considered and agreed so that the work of the meeting can continue and votes can be counted.  The Measure simply requires that local authorities’ Standing Orders include provision for the possibility of remote attendance.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.        Ongoing annual costs to fund the support and maintenance of the webcasting system are not provided as part of the grant so additional funding will need to be found in future years if the Council continues to use webcasting.

11.        The grant from Welsh Government will cover the cost of procurement of the system.   However, it may not cover all of the costs for the associated web streaming and bandwidth requirements if the system is to be used effectively. The bandwidth required to deliver the web cast depends on the number of individuals who want to view the meeting online at the same time and this is an unknown quantity at present and may well grow over time if the webcasting becomes more popular with the general public.

12.        Costs to fund a support technician will need to be met from existing budgets.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        The Council is required to comply with the provisions of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.         There are no Crime and Disorder implications for this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        There are no equal opportunity implications that arise as a result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        To exercise robust financial management and explore all opportunities to improve efficiency and service quality including collaborative working.

17.        To deliver cost-effective support and service desk function to monitor performance, meet customer needs and communicate effectively.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.         This report is for information only.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.        No Member consultation has taken place.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.         Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee.

Background Papers

Grant document from Welsh Government for Webcasting of Council meetings.

Contact Officer

David Vining - Head of Strategic ICT

Officers Consulted

Jeff Wyatt – Democratic Services

Jane Wade – Property Services

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Director of Resources

 

 

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