Oldham taking council meetings online

Visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/local-government-network/2012/feb/15/digital-democracy-council-meeting-online

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This article by the leader of Oldham Council describes how they’ve opened up council meetings using technology:

Oldham’s aspiration is to become a co-operative council: one where everyone joins together in the face of public sector cuts to do their bit. It will mean working differently and everyone contributing to help realise the shared priorities and aspirations of residents, partners and the community.

But the problem is that if people aren’t already connecting with local democracy then they may be less willing to co-operate and contribute. We’ve been looking hard at how to remove the barriers to community involvement in making decisions and delivering public services.

That has meant devolution of increased powers and budgets to six district partnerships, giving tangible influence back to local people. But in 2012 you must also visibly demonstrate to people that this is not just another window dressing exercise. We have to prove we are prepared to engage, that we will open our doors and let people use their voice.

Last week we took an important step by bringing our primary public meeting into the digital age. For the first time ever a full council meeting was held in a way that enabled residents to join in from the comfort of their own homes.

We filmed and streamed it all live on our website, allowing people to watch on their laptops and other digital devices. The meeting also kicked off with a new public question time section that allowed people to submit questions directly to cabinet members via Twitter, Facebook and email, right up until moments before it began.

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