On Tuesday Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard responded to a question from Wrexham.com regarding public engagement on the ‘Difficult Decisions’ consultation by noting that he believed more webcasting of meetings would highlight disingenuous behaviour by some unspecified Councillors.
Last year we wrote how some Scrutiny meetings at Wrexham Council were due to be webcast, with the system rolled out later that year.
The webcasting system is paid for a set number of hours, and the expansion covered 10 hours of Scrutiny meetings, which is not the full calendar nor does it cover meetings that overrun their predicted timeslots.
On Tuesday Cllr Pritchard was speaking about the consultation process possibly being subject to ‘political games being played’, adding: “That is not about politics it is about consultation” – prompting him to discuss his plans for greater transparency of council workings.
While giving background to the budget creation process Councillor David A Bithell pointed out that there is ‘a view all this happens behind closed doors’, “All Councillors get invited to a number of workshops. We have had about four budget workshops throughout the summer with another budget workshop coming up after the consultation. So all members of the Council, including opposition groups, have opportunities to challenge and to put forward ideas. Up to now they have not. That is the reality.”
Following on, Cllr Pritchard spoke about the scrutiny process, saying: “The good thing is, and hopefully I will get political support, I have aspirations and ambitions to roll out cameras in the scrutiny process as well so there is nowhere to hide for any politician in Wrexham.”
“Some politicians say some things and do other things, which I do not take kindly to.”
“If we are a politician and we say something we should stand by it, not say things in scrutiny, then come to Full Council when the cameras are on them and say the complete different thing.”
Previously there has been a significant five figure cost of cameras and webcasting, but Cllr Pritchard appeared happy to work to find that money, saying: “There will be a cost, but there is always a cost for democracy, openness and transparency.”
Although no specific proposals were mentioned, Cllr Pritchard said he hoped to gain political support ‘later this year’ to increase the coverage.