Wrexham.com has been successful in its quest to allow video recording of Wrexham Council meetings.
Below is the first ever video of a Wrexham Council meeting that we know of and we think it is quite historic, setting the precedent that ought to mean further meetings can now be filmed.
Some interesting-ish points from the video:
- 5mins 22 seconds: Meeting starts. This is the first time this has been filmed. Less exciting than you think…
The initial shouts of ‘can’t hear you’ do start right from the beginning from the public gallery. This issue reared up throughout the meeting, at one point with someone being threatened with removal.
- 27mins 59 seconds Our second video section starts with the applause for the presentation by Cllr Taylor.
- 46mins 35 seconds Point of order is made by Arfon Jones about reading of statements, again, applause from public gallery.
47mins 48seconds A warning is given by the Chair to members of the public, reading out the constitution of the council.
- 48mins 20 seconds A member of the public says he cannot hear the meeting, and is invited to leave but says he won’t. Chair asks for his removal. Man walks out referring to it as being childish, and debate between meeting and public gallery continues until 50mins.
- 1hr 27 mins 33 seconds The vote takes place – short clip as we had to save battery.
For a while now we have popped in the odd request to Chair’s of various Council meetings to ask if we can video proceedings, with the usual answer being a resounding no. On occasion we have had a ‘we will have to ask members’ answer, so we have turned up equipped ready to film but have been rejected.
Today, as we did at the last Executive Board, we emailed the Chair asking if we can film the meeting in a way that will not disturb the business of the meeting itself. Around an hour before the meeting we received a voicemail to say that the Chair ‘had no problem’ with us filming.
Armed with a copy of the Council’s constitution we arrived at the meeting and started filming. At that point we informed the Press Officer present that we would be filming (and as per Section 45 i) , the Chair said it was alright. Wonderfully no issues were raised and we kept filming.
Councillor Steve Wilson of Rhosddu representing the Grosvenor Ward was the forward thinking, groundbreaking chairman who was first to say ‘yes’. After the meeting we did briefly say thanks, plus pointed out his decision was a ‘historic first’, his response was “Oh God!”.
As we were pretty sure we would be stopped we did not bring extra battery capacity, nor a tripod, so what is above is around an hour and half of a near three hour meeting without great audio of all the debate and not exactly a great angle! Importantly it contains the start of the meeting, the historic start of a video of a Wrexham Council meeting, plus part of the debate and the very swift vote at the end.
The meeting itself was to discuss a possible revisiting of the decision to close Plas Madoc leisure centre, one that has provoked great debate locally and is highlighting cuts that are being made across Wrexham.
We took advantage of the earlier change in the rules by live tweeting the meeting – you can read our meeting report and the tweets by clicking here.
When the rules changed in this manner for tweets and text updates the adoption of allowing communication was quite hit and miss depending on the Chair of the meeting. This changed once the rule change was enforced fully in the Council’s own constitution.
Back in May we published ASCII art to show an ‘image’ of a meeting, and commented that a rule change was enforcing what became the norm. Likewise we wrote that those changes were luddite compared to what occurs a few miles up the road in Chester.
The Council has had grants allocated to enable streaming of meetings, however this has not been placed live as of yet but is forthcoming.
Hopefully in the meantime more meetings can be videoed by press, media, hyperlocals and the public with the Chairs of meetings obliging the requests.
Likewise one further step forward would be to open the Council’s internet access to public use, much like at libraries, to allow connection and therefore live broadcast of similar video via systems such as uStream to allow anyone to broadcast public Council business to the world.