Harrogate council meetings could soon be live streamed - here's everything you need to know

Harrogate councillors are set to look into whether their meetings should be streamed live online as part of a bid to accurately record the business of the authority.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:53 pm
Harrogate councillors are set to look into whether their meetings should be streamed live online as part of a bid to accurately record the business of the authority.

The council’s General Purposes Committee will meet on Thursday, January 23, to look into the pros and cons of the idea.

Live streaming was first proposed when a motion was presented at December’s full council meeting by Coun Chris Aldred (Lib Dem), calling on councillors to look to follow other authorities’ lead and broadcast its meetings on the internet.

The motion read: “It is proposed that this council records, in the council minutes, all verbal questions and answers that are raised during the ‘Accountability of the Executive and Committee Chairs’ agenda item.

“To aid this process, this council looks at the possibility of ‘live streaming’ full council meetings on the internet, with a view to instigating such processes, prior to the annual meeting in May 2020.”

Harrogate Council currently does not stream any of its meetings online, though other Yorkshire councils have taken that step.

Nearby Scarborough Borough Council live streams its full council, cabinet and planning committee meetings via its website. They are also stored so they can be watched at a later time by members of the public.

A report prepared for the General Purposes Committee gives the benefits and the drawbacks of streaming meetings.

The benefits include that it “makes the council more accessible and transparent to the public” and that the public are able to watch meetings “at a time and location which is convenient to them”.

It is also felt that the recording would give a “more complete record” of meetings and would help people gain a greater understanding of the council’s work.

On the other side of the argument, the report warns that some councils that have brought in webcasting have experienced drops in the numbers of public attending meetings in person.

Other worries include the cost in money and officers’ time and reports from other authorities that journalists are the main viewers of the webcasts and this would reduce attendance at meetings and lead to fewer opportunities for “conversations” with councillors.

The committee will be asked to discuss the issue and make a recommendation to the full council on whether it should start to stream meetings of the authority.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporter