BASS Coast residents believe live streaming of council meetings to be a positive step forward towards greater transparency and community engagement despite councillors opposing the idea at the April ordinary council meeting.
Bass Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association (BCRRA) president, Kevin Griffin, continues to advocate for this change because he believes it’ll better service the community.
The April 2019 minutes confirm that five councillors were not in support of the measure, which some have labelled crucial to local government transparency.
“Council is to believe it will invite harassment and bullying issues, however being in the public light these matters must be dealt with efficiently,” said Kevin.
This should not deter from the community gaining an insight and have access to archived recordings when required, he said.
Four councillors voted in favour of the live streaming, and Kevin encourages them to continue their efforts in putting this forward.
Kevin read a petition statement at the community connection session.
“Councillors, as you know, at the last month’s council meeting BCRRA attempted to submit three petitions for your consideration.
“Each petition called for improvement to an area of transparency and engagement.
“We had sought permission to speak briefly to introduce our petitions to council, however we were denied such permission,” said Kevin.
BCRRA have put forward to councillors that every decision made by council will impact ratepayers and residents throughout the shire and that it is important that the community be allowed to see how their elected representatives vote on these matters.
Five councillors being Cr Le Serve, Cr Tessari, Cr Fullarton, Cr Ellis, and Cr Kent all voted to prevent the introduction of live streaming, citing reasons around cost, community participation and technology as well as the harassment and bullying worry.
Councillors, at the previous ordinary council meeting, reiterated that meetings are open to the public and in which case live streaming is not a matter of urgency.
“The simple fact is that modern live streaming technology is advanced, easily transportable, and easy to implement and such arguments simply do not stand up to scrutiny,” said Kevin.
“And regarding bullying, I too have been subject to abuse for this exact matter and I will not let it come in the way of my advocacy.
“If we do not stand up to bad behaviour, then the bullies and the wrongdoers win,” he said.
BCRRA ask that councillors not seek to prevent improved transparency measures for fear of the bullies in the community and to vote in support of the resident’s petition.
Council is due to make its decision on the petitions at this week’s council meeting at Cowes on Wednesday, July 17.
In a report to be table at this week’s meeting, council officers have recommended that council considers live streaming for a six-month trial period commencing from October 2019 from all council meeting venues.
However, councillors will get the final say on that one.