9:30am Thursday 16th February 2012
LIGHTS, camera, action...
Welcome to HCC Television, starring Ken Thornber and Keith House County council chiefs are getting out their combs and hair brushes as they prepare for the first televised meeting of Hampshire County Council.
As previously reported, the project will cost £223,000 - for installing equipment in the chamber and paying an outside company to operate it.
The first session session to be filmed will be on February 23 when they will debate the budget for 2012-13 - including a controversial £45m package of cuts.
Council bosses say televising meetings will boost local democracy but opposition Liberal Democrat councillors have attacked it as “vanity spending.”
County chiefs hope locals will use their home computers or laptops to watch live or recorded films of meetings on the council website.
Budget setting meetings are usually marathon sessions of up to eight hours kicked-off with a speech by council leader Ken Thornber.
Keith House, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said: “This is vanity spending when the county Conservatives are slashing services to vulnerable people, hiking charges and axing more staff.”
The technology involves giving each councillor an ID card which they insert into a microphone console on their desk.
This enables the camera to know where they are sitting. When a councillor switches on the microphone to speak, the nearest camera pans to them and their picture appears on the video streaming device with a name caption to identify them to viewers.
But Conservative councillor Colin Davidovitz, executive member for communications and efficiency, said: “At long last we have the facilities that will enable us to televise our council meetings and allow the people of Hampshire to watch, on their home computers or laptops, as their representatives debate local issues and decide on policies actually while they are taking place.
“Or, if they prefer, to download recordings of these meetings after the event, when it is more convenient for them to do so.”
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