New council to webcast meetings in pilot project

Derry City Councillors. officers and press at the historic final meeting of Derry City Council.
Derry City Councillors. officers and press at the historic final meeting of Derry City Council.

Derry City & Strabane District Council are to webcast their meetings from the Guildhall every month, it has been confirmed.

There were some concerns raised about the identity of members of the public being shared online as the pilot project was discussed at the supercouncil’s first Governance and Strategic Planning Meeting on Tuesday.

A council officer told the committee that following a meeting back in November, a webcasting protocol has now been developed in respect of: the information to be carried; access to and storage of webcasting records; notification and consent processes; and the termination or suspension of webcasting.

The protocol makes sure the monthly live transmissions from the Guildhall at the full council meetings are compliant legally with data protection and human rights.

Fixed cameras have now been placed in the Guildhall Chamber, but the Mayor and Deputy Mayor has the discretion to request that the webcast is suspended or stopped if it would prejudice the proceedings.

This would include public disturbance, the exclusion of the public and press, or for any other reason supported by the council.

The Mayor or Deputy will announce at the start of each meeting that it is being webcast, and advise the public and press present that if they do not want to risk being captured they can move to the upper level of the public gallery.

No agenda items normally held under confidential business will be broadcast.

The webcasts will be available on the council website for two years.

Audio recordings of all council meetings will be held at the Council offices on Strand Road for six years from the date of the meeting, and made available to the public.

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said that one issue which jumped out at him was that people might allow their image to be used for the purpose of the meeting but that could then be “disseminated globally” and end up being used in ways they were never intended.

The Council officer said she would be quite happy to add a paragraph to the protocol on the dangers of misuse.

“What we don’t want to do is frighten people away from the public galleries,” Committee Chair, Sinn Fein Councillor Karina Carlin said.