Welwyn Hatfield Council slammed over chamber’s streaming equipment

PUBLISHED: 12:30 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:40 25 April 2017

Welwyn Hatfield Council offices

Welwyn Hatfield Council offices

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Council has been blasted for still failing to use streaming equipment at its council chamber nearly a year after its unveiling.

The Campus East facility was trumpeted upon its opening in May 2016 for being “designed to meet the needs of residents now and in the future”.

Among technology installed was live streaming, which would enable meetings to be recorded and residents to watch them online.

However, the equipment remains unused, and a council spokeswoman confirmed no date has been set for its introduction.

Labour leader, councillor Kieran Thorpe, said: “I think it’s a disgrace that for all the money that was spent by the Conservatives on these facilities, they still aren’t being used.

“I’m sure that certain council debates would be of interest to a number of residents and have asked multiple times for meetings to be live streamed.

“Clearly the Conservatives are scared of the public seeing how they behave and what they say – usually the opposite of what they put on their leaflets.”

Several residents highlighted that neighbouring authorities Hertsmere and St Albans both currently use recording equipment.

Panshanger’s Will Davis branded a year’s delay “ridiculous”, and claimed not properly streaming meetings was allowing the council to be opaque and unaccountable.

“I very much want to see the council stop dragging their feet on this, there is no reason why they couldn’t have had meetings streamed and recorded from the day the new chamber opened,” he added.

A council spokeswoman said: “It was always a priority for the council chamber project to make it easier for residents to get involved in council business.

“We also wanted to ensure that we future-proofed the new chamber as far as possible; that is why we considered live streaming facilities at the time of construction, rather than at a later stage.

“The system providing wifi, specialist sound equipment, viewing screens and electronic voting can support live streaming, but implementing this feature will require a subscription to a suitable streaming service.

“A report will be taken to Cabinet to consider the options and costs for a subscription in the summer.”

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