Council debate to go digital

LATROBE City Council meetings could soon be broadcast online as part of a push for discussions to become more accessible to the community.

Council has called for expressions of interest from technology solution companies to facilitate the live streaming of meetings through its website.

Mayor Sandy Kam said the push was not linked to council’s decision last year to bring forward its regular meetings from 7pm to 5.30pm, which drew criticism from some residents who said it alienated working people.

“As we know, not everyone can attend the meetings,” she said.

“If they want to see a particular item on the agenda, or want to see the result, this (online streaming) is a way of accessing it.”

Cr Kam said it was not yet known whether the broadcast would be archived on the website for residents to access at any time.

While a move to record meetings had been dismissed by council in previous years, Cr Kam said many of the newly-elected councillors wanted to be “more accessible to the community”.

Churchill and District Community Association president Margaret Guthrie welcomed the push.

“This would enable people who don’t have their own car or can’t use public transport to listen to what’s happening at council,” Ms Guthrie said.

“While often there’s not a large crowd at council meetings, the business discussed is relevant, whether it’s how they spend our rates or new projects.” However, Ms Guthrie urged council to establish a method for measuring the popularity of the online broadcast, so it could later assess whether ratepayers’ money had been well-spent.

Traralgon Community Development Association secretary Bruce Bremner said archived recordings would make councillors more accountable to the community, because residents could “be sure of what was said”.

Mr Bremner said streamed meetings would help maintain “manners and respect” as councillors would be more conscious of their comments.

Committee for Moe president Manny Gelagotis said “any form of transparency” was important for council’s engagement with the community.

“In an evolving world of social media and computer access, it would have to be a positive,” he said.

“It gives community members another choice.”