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Home > News > Councils bring democracy online

Councils bring democracy online

Posted by on 19 June 2019 | Comments

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are to make their council meetings, which include major decisions such as budgets and major planning applications, accessible to everyone as online livestreaming begins.

Following an upgrade of the King Edmund Chamber at the councils’ joint headquarters in Endeavour House, Ipswich, all meetings held in the Chamber will be livestreamed for public viewing, allowing residents to watch their councillors debate and vote upon major issues, including upcoming debates on the councils’ Joint Local Plan, from their own devices. A schedule of upcoming council meetings is available online.

The new platform will allow members of the public to view presentations given to councillors at these meetings and will display the name of each member of the councils when they speak, helping residents follow each meeting in full.

Meetings held in the King Edmund Chamber include Full Council meetings and most Cabinet and Planning Committee meetings, as well as several other committee and subcommittee meetings of both councils.

The videos will be available online for public viewing via the councils’ YouTube page.

Upcoming meetings that will be livestreamed include:

  • Babergh’s Full Council meeting at 5.30pm on 25 June
  • Mid Suffolk’s Development Control Committee A meeting at 9.30am on 26 June
  • Mid Suffolk’s Full Council meeting at 5.30pm on 27 June

Once meetings have finished the videos will be saved on the channel for public viewing at any time. Several previous meetings are already available online, following testing of the new set-up.

Members of the public will continue to be welcome to attend these meetings in person via the public gallery if desired.

Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Customers, Digital Transformation & Improvement, Cllr Suzie Morley, said: “We’re committed to being more open, more transparent and more accountable than ever, and I’m delighted that we’re now able to put our meetings on the screens of every computer, phone or tablet that wants to see them. Open, public meetings have always been a key part of local democracy, and this new facility moves that into the 21st century.”

Babergh District Council’s Cabinet Member for Customers, Digital Transformation & Improvement, Cllr Lee Parker, said: “We’ve spent the last year working to make our services more accessible to our residents: we’ve taken customer service pop-ups into Libraries and village halls, but now we’re taking our meetings right into people’s homes via the internet. Our meetings have always been open to the public, but now they’ll be accessible to all our residents, including those who can’t make it to the meeting in person. With social media increasingly being the means by which residents engage with Local Government, it is important that we embrace these new technologies and let people see decision making as it happens.”