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Latest Council TV ratings out – Controversial mental health comments & Guildhall kick off tops charts

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Jun 29th, 2018.

A planning meeting featuring controversial comments from councillors over a proposed secure mental health unit and a row between the leader of Wrexham council and the leader of the Plaid Cymru group, were the two most watched meetings via the council’s webcasting system this year.

A total of 623 people ‘tuned in’ to watch the March 3rd planning committee, which saw councillors debate plans to develop the secure unit in Gwersyllt. At the meeting a Councillor referred to the low secure unit plan noting “There is a railway line. Right by the side of it”, we covered the comments with a link to the webcast.

Since the meeting mental health training with councillors has been undertaken.

The second most watched meeting of the past six months included a furious exchange of words between Council Leader Mark Pritchard and Plaid Cymru Group Leader, Marc Jones over proposals to mark the RAF centenary with civic honour

The meeting saw 526 people tune into watch the meeting live and webcast.

Generally viewing stats are low – with executive board and full council meetings being the most watched.

The figures have been released ahead of a meeting of the democratic services committee next Thursday.

In March 2018 Wrexham.com reported that councillors had called for the council’s webcasting services to be extended to include as many meetings as possible.

The current webcasting contract allows for up to 80 hours of broadcasting per year, which is largely made up of full council, executive board and planning meetings.

At next week’s meeting councillors will be asked to consider four options, with option two recommended for approval. The suggested options are:

Option 1:- Take up the option, under the current contract, to extend it for a further one year up
to January 2020. Webcast all Full Council, Executive Board, both Planning Committee meetings and a maximum of 10 hours for Scrutiny Committees. 6 month archive facility or 12 month archive facility

Option 2:- Option 1 plus the facility to purchase additional bundles of 20 hours, as required
throughout the 12 months, enabling more Scrutiny Committee meetings to be webcast. 6 month archive facility or 12 month archive facility

Option 3:- Take up the option, under the current contract, to extend it for a further one year up
to January 2020. Webcast all Full Council, Executive Board, both Planning Committee meetings and all Scrutiny Committee meetings. 6 month archive facility or 12 month archive facility

Option 4:- Take up the option, under the current contract, to extend it for a further one year up
to January 2020. Webcast all public Committee meetings, with the exception of Environmental Licensing Committee/Licensing Committee ie. Full Council, Executive Board, both Planning Committee meetings, all Scrutiny Committee meetings, Audit Committee, Democratic Services Committee, Standards Committee and Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Joint Committee meetings (when held at the Guildhall). 6 month archive facility or 12 month archive facility.

One of the issues raised in March was the clash of bookings in the council chamber where the webcasting equipment is installed; with warnings that some meeting could not be held there due.

This saw Cllr Pritchard issue a bold challenge issue a bold challenge asking fellow councillors to be ‘brave’ and to ‘bite the bullet’ in pushing for full coverage. He also took no prisoners with council staff who also use the council chamber, being happy to decant them off to the Memorial Hall.

In next week’s meeting report explains that such clashes include Citizenship ceremonies, which are held on the second Wednesday of every other month; along with some meeting scheduled within close time proximity of each other.

However one way around this could be to schedule meetings in the morning.

The report before councillors says: “As can be seen from Wrexham’s viewing figures (Appendix 1) during the six month period December 2017 – May 2018 the facility is being used.

“The data highlights the number of actual viewers (reach) who have watched a webcast. It should be noted that viewing by Council Officers is also captured in the data.

“An analysis of the viewing data has identified that the majority of viewers access the webcasts during the month that the meeting was broadcast and the following month.

“It is notable that the number of viewers during the period range from 24 to 623 where an increased level of viewers is likely to reflect greater public interest in the items of business transacted, similar to the varying levels of public attendance in the Council Chamber gallery, prior to the introduction of webcasting.

“Historically the items which have attracted the most viewers include scrutiny of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board by the Safeguarding, Communities & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, Difficult Decisions – Reshaping Services and Budget Consultation and recommendations regarding the Revenue Budget by the Executive Board, Revenue Budget and Council Tax setting by the Council and site specific applications considered by the Planning Committee.”

A recommendation over if the committee would prefer 6 month archive facility or 12 month archive facility will be made, with Wrexham.com recently struggling to gain access to archives – and unconfirmed reports on our Forums that footage is not retained by Wrexham Council after the 6 month period.

There is no indication Wrexham’s functionality will be changed to match Flintshire’s where websites such as Wrexham.com could embed video direct from the service provider – which is the same with both councils. Nor is there any debate planned on the rules surrounding clipping of video for public use by Councillors, media or members of the public.

The report will discussed by members of the democratic services committee at 2pm on Thursday 5th July.

On a lighter note it appears attempts by ITV to sign Executive Board member Cllr David A Bithell have failed, with him clarifying this year he will not be taking the Judge Rinder role…

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