Aylesbury district council blocks webcasting meetings - by ONE vote

The AVDC offices
The AVDC offices
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District council meetings will not be broadcast online after a motion calling for webcasts was defeated - by just one vote.

Councillors supporting the move argued webcasts would help promote transparency and democracy and allow more people to see what elected officials get up to.

But opponents said the costs would be too high - despite cameras already being in place in the chamber for county council meetings - and that it would not be worth it for a small predicted audience.

Councillor Robin Stuchbury, who proposed the motion, said as a growing authority Aylesbury Vale District Council should take accountability very seriously.

Mr Stuchbury, Labour, said: “People should be able to judge us by our actions and what we say.”

However, council leader Neil Blake said he did not think transparency and democracy should be ‘at any cost’.

Mr Blake, Conservative, said: “We are talking about £32,000 to provide a service to an unknown number of residents.

“I understand neighbouring authorities have an average of seven to 12 people watching live viewings.

“That is too high a price to pay to service those people.”

Some councillors questioned where Mr Blake had got the £32,000 figure from, given cameras are already installed in the main chamber and would only need to be put in committee rooms.

It was also suggested more people would watch meetings on playback rather than live.

Councillor Steven Lambert, the Lib Dem group leader, said Mr Blake’s views were ‘out of touch’.

Mr Lambert said: “Perhaps when some people start to see what goes on in here they will be more interested in spending two more minutes at the polling booth or even going to it.

“The very worst that can happen is one of us says something silly. The best that can happen is that people see us standing up for the Vale, understand what we do and the value of it. We have nothing to lose.”

Councillor Phil Yerby, Conservative, said the move was a ‘no brainer’, while fellow Tory David Thompson said: “What have we got to hide?”

However Councillor Sue Polhill, the deputy leader, said although she thought webcasting was a good idea, with continuing government cuts the authority could not afford to keep throwing money around.

Mrs Polhill said: “What we want is people to come here and see how we carry on.”

But Councillor Raj Khan, Lib Dem, said: “£32,000 is nothing really. This is the price of democracy.”

The motion was lost by 23 votes to 22, with three abstentions.