Council TV: Debate broadcasts extended following success of pilot

Steve Cardownie featured on the first city council webcast
Steve Cardownie featured on the first city council webcast
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LIVE coverage of a wide range of debates is to be rolled out by city council chiefs following the success of a pilot broadcast last month.

The council screened proceedings online from the monthly full council meeting and unexpectedly attracted 600 viewers on the first day.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson said the scheme had been a huge success already and was keen to capitalise on the level of interest in issues like new schools and transport.

Thousands more are expected to tune in to the local authority website tomorrow for a major debate on the new Portobello High School, when councillors will be asked to press ahead with plans to ask Holyrood to change the law to allow the construction on 
Portobello Park.

The new petitions committee, which will debate motions raised by the public, will also be broadcast from December and committees hearing evidence on the trams and transport are expected to follow.

Although council leaders are still examining which committees will be broadcast, the lively proceedings of the Edinburgh Licensing Board, which reprimands pub landlords and hears applications from the lap-dancing and strip club industry, may be among them.

Proceedings which include hearing evidence from police already benefit from a packed public gallery located in the chamber where the broadcasts are held.

Councillor Wilson said: “Last month at the launch of our one-year webcasting pilot more than 600 people tuned in to watch councillors in Edinburgh make decisions that will affect the lives of those 
living all over the city.

“The first meeting was so well received that we also are looking to develop the pilot by webcasting committee meetings. The first committee to be included in the pilot is the petitions committee on December 3.

“We are urging residents to use this new committee to influence council decisions and I feel it is vital that we webcast this process. The project is a genuine attempt to open up democracy in Edinburgh.”

Maggie Chapman, chair of the new petitions committee and a Green councillor, said the move would open up the way decisions are made.

She said: “I really believe that the petitions process will help open the eyes and ears of the council to issues that otherwise would be sidelined. Broadcasting the discussions will make it even more open.”