Councillor wants meetings to be Tweeted

Swindon Advertiser: A Swindon Council meeting A Swindon Council meeting

A SENIOR Swindon councillor is encouraging members to Tweet during meetings in a bid to boost public engagement in the authority’s decisions.

Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, is encouraging the use of Twitter and other social media following calls for meetings to be filmed and broadcast live online, which he claims would be costly and less effective.

Officers worked up a feasibility study into webcasting meetings following a campaign by Coun Mark Dempsey, the deputy Labour group leader, who is also Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Swindon North.

The outcome, to be discussed at Wednesday’s cabinet, says the cost of webcasting with the market leading solution, used by 70 other councils, would be more than £1,000 per meeting.

The report also sets out other cheaper options, including councillors or a volunteer resident recording meetings on their own devices and uploading footage to a free public hosting service; the council buying portable digital cameras, operated by staff members, and uploading the video; or streaming the audio only on Swindon 105.5.

But Coun Heenan said: “People would rather watch EastEnders or Coronation Street than watch a council meeting. I don’t think it will improve community engagement in any way. It’s a late 1990s idea that it will contribute in any way.

“It’s a real shame that, given the priorities and issues facing the borough, this is no more than a distraction and I cannot justify why the council should spend £90,000 over a few years.

”Many councillors already Tweet during the course of the meeting to the people which follow them on Twitter. And we reach a far wider audience that you would if the meeting was recorded.

“I would like to see that encouraged, and maybe there are other ways of doing social media, which is a fraction of cost and is more effective.

“The borough council has over 2,000 followers on its Twitter account. I have 120 and other councillors have 4/5/600 people following them. People can actually ask questions so they are re-Tweeting what we’ve said during the course of the meeting.”

However, Coun Heenan said the council needed to find a way to encourage councillors to use social media properly so it did not become a distraction in debates.

Coun Mark Dempsey said: “I think if we can find a cost-effective way, we should be webcasting.

“Tweeting is a second-hand account of a meeting. Webcasting gives people a first-hand account of a meeting.”

Comments (12)

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12:26pm Sun 17 Mar 13

sn5 says...

Interesting idea, the advantage of tweeting is it is a 2 way process which is better than broadcasting the meeting which is just listening to councillors.

Really, how many people are going to watch the broadcasts of the councillors?
Interesting idea, the advantage of tweeting is it is a 2 way process which is better than broadcasting the meeting which is just listening to councillors. Really, how many people are going to watch the broadcasts of the councillors? sn5

12:42pm Sun 17 Mar 13

stratton man says...

I expect my elected representatives to be concentrating on business in hand not entertaining their mates on twitter.I am not surprised to see the shameless self publicist Cllr Heenan an enthusiast but am disappointed that Cllr Dempsey who seems clued up also supported this idea.Many Councillors seem to think their vacuous views are of interest to us .I have news for you we dont give a monkeys
I expect my elected representatives to be concentrating on business in hand not entertaining their mates on twitter.I am not surprised to see the shameless self publicist Cllr Heenan an enthusiast but am disappointed that Cllr Dempsey who seems clued up also supported this idea.Many Councillors seem to think their vacuous views are of interest to us .I have news for you we dont give a monkeys stratton man

1:51pm Sun 17 Mar 13

Hmmmf says...

I'm sure there'll be legions of 15 year-old girls glued to their smartphones while councillors are busy talking to their 'followers' with their thumbs. Doubtless Twitter will be grateful too, it'll help them hit their $1billion advertising revenue goal this year.
I'm sure there'll be legions of 15 year-old girls glued to their smartphones while councillors are busy talking to their 'followers' with their thumbs. Doubtless Twitter will be grateful too, it'll help them hit their $1billion advertising revenue goal this year. Hmmmf

3:00pm Sun 17 Mar 13

AndyJH says...

I used Facebook and Twitter in meetings to engage directly with my constituents regularly whilst a councillor, much to the distain of some councillors who tried to have me stopped. Rules were brought in by the council so that whist members could post the subjects under discussion and anything that the poster might have said themselves, they were barred from quoting in posts what either other elected members or council officers were saying. Totally wrong as those in the public gallery can post as they will.

As for being distracted, if you can’t multitask a little then you’re not going to be much use as a councillor anyway.

Webcasting meetings is nothing new and has been suggested many times, including by myself and others. I have even gone so far as to suggest that local libraries, which share the same council web server, could be used to allow residents unable to travel into the Civic Offices to ask public questions and view council meetings.

The fear I believe is not with the elected members, nor even the alleged costs, but certain archaic officers who rule the roost in a manner not dissimilar to “Sir Humphrey Appleby” Certain Officers certainly would not want recorded for all time the actual advice that they gave elected members and may well explain why council minutes contain scant details of actual events.
I used Facebook and Twitter in meetings to engage directly with my constituents regularly whilst a councillor, much to the distain of some councillors who tried to have me stopped. Rules were brought in by the council so that whist members could post the subjects under discussion and anything that the poster might have said themselves, they were barred from quoting in posts what either other elected members or council officers were saying. Totally wrong as those in the public gallery can post as they will. As for being distracted, if you can’t multitask a little then you’re not going to be much use as a councillor anyway. Webcasting meetings is nothing new and has been suggested many times, including by myself and others. I have even gone so far as to suggest that local libraries, which share the same council web server, could be used to allow residents unable to travel into the Civic Offices to ask public questions and view council meetings. The fear I believe is not with the elected members, nor even the alleged costs, but certain archaic officers who rule the roost in a manner not dissimilar to “Sir Humphrey Appleby” Certain Officers certainly would not want recorded for all time the actual advice that they gave elected members and may well explain why council minutes contain scant details of actual events. AndyJH

3:58pm Sun 17 Mar 13

Oliver Dummassie says...

Councillor Heenan seems to be talking with a forked tongue as usual.

Nobody wants edited footage or chosen titbits of information.

If the council is attempting to demonstrate open and transparent democracy then it should not transmit anything less than full footage via a webcast
Councillor Heenan seems to be talking with a forked tongue as usual. Nobody wants edited footage or chosen titbits of information. If the council is attempting to demonstrate open and transparent democracy then it should not transmit anything less than full footage via a webcast Oliver Dummassie

7:09pm Sun 17 Mar 13

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

The problem with tweeting is that it will usually be an opinion or an interpretation of what is said; rather than what is actually said.


@AndyJH

The idea that you could accurately tweet in real time what is being discussed whilst being an active participant is ludicrous.

If you think otherwise, I suggest that you use your skills to keep the accurate minutes that you claim are lacking.
The problem with tweeting is that it will usually be an opinion or an interpretation of what is said; rather than what is actually said. @AndyJH The idea that you could accurately tweet in real time what is being discussed whilst being an active participant is ludicrous. If you think otherwise, I suggest that you use your skills to keep the accurate minutes that you claim are lacking. LordAshOfTheBrake

8:47pm Sun 17 Mar 13

Silver Lining says...

Tweets from individual councillors costs nothing, so I guess it's up to them to do it if they feel it's worthwhile. And individual members of the public will decide whether their tweets are worth reading.

Webcasts are expensive though and,given the financial pressures the council faces, I would have thought that it could be used in a better way.

At the end of the day, if anyone is remotely interested in listening to the meeting, they can go along to the meetings and watch them from the public gallery. That is, unless they haven'nt got some paint they want to watch dry!
Tweets from individual councillors costs nothing, so I guess it's up to them to do it if they feel it's worthwhile. And individual members of the public will decide whether their tweets are worth reading. Webcasts are expensive though and,given the financial pressures the council faces, I would have thought that it could be used in a better way. At the end of the day, if anyone is remotely interested in listening to the meeting, they can go along to the meetings and watch them from the public gallery. That is, unless they haven'nt got some paint they want to watch dry! Silver Lining

10:16pm Sun 17 Mar 13

Eastern Badger says...

This would be another opportunity for Dale Heenan to give a one sided view of council proceedings. It's enough that his picture is associated with every act at the council as portrayed in the Advertiser but his tweets would add to the impression that he believes he is the only one with an opinion. In planning as so many other matters he 'bluffs' his knowledge.
This would be another opportunity for Dale Heenan to give a one sided view of council proceedings. It's enough that his picture is associated with every act at the council as portrayed in the Advertiser but his tweets would add to the impression that he believes he is the only one with an opinion. In planning as so many other matters he 'bluffs' his knowledge. Eastern Badger

1:57pm Mon 18 Mar 13

house on the hill says...

I think i would rather watch paint dry to be honest.
I think i would rather watch paint dry to be honest. house on the hill

10:07pm Mon 18 Mar 13

1 2 Could B says...

Youtube
Youtube 1 2 Could B

7:54am Tue 19 Mar 13

Tim Newroman says...

1 2 Could B wrote:
Youtube
Why do you even bother?
[quote][p][bold]1 2 Could B[/bold] wrote: Youtube[/p][/quote]Why do you even bother? Tim Newroman

12:42pm Tue 19 Mar 13

1 2 Could B says...

Tim Newroman wrote:
1 2 Could B wrote:
Youtube
Why do you even bother?
http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=_sTIXRxEsK0
[quote][p][bold]Tim Newroman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]1 2 Could B[/bold] wrote: Youtube[/p][/quote]Why do you even bother?[/p][/quote]http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=_sTIXRxEsK0 1 2 Could B

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