Midlothian Council planning meetings to be shown live

Midlothian Council Debating chamber at Midlothian House, Buccleuch St in Dalkeith
Midlothian Council Debating chamber at Midlothian House, Buccleuch St in Dalkeith

At last week’s full council meeting councillors agreed to start webcasting planning meetings instead of cabinet meetings, at no extra cost.

The report before councillors last week showed that no more than 13 people had ever watched a cabinet meeting live, with only two people viewing February’s cabinet meeting. The more popular full council meetings will still be webcast.

Speaking at last week’s meeting, Councillor John Hackett (Lab) said: “It’s hard to argue with the viewing figures. It would make sense (to change from cabinet to planning meeting).”

Cllr Debbi McCall (SNP) said: “I think it’s very important that we make planning accessible to people.

“Webcasting is a good idea and as this is at no extra costs to the council I think we should go for it.”

Councillors raised concerns about the £400 an hour cost of webcasting. Cllr Hacket added: “We’ve seen the state of council finances. If webcasting is about access to our local democracy and getting more people involved I welcome that, but I think we might need to look at other ways that are not so costly.

“Audio recordings, but also reaching out to schools and community councils to involve people more in the decisions this chamber takes.”

The first planning committee webcast is scheduled for October 9.

A further evaluation report will be brought before the full council prior to the current webcasting contract expiring in 2021.