GREATER transparency is needed at Warwick District Council says MP Matt Western.
The Warwick and Leamington Labour MP remains unhappy at the Conervative-run council’s refusal to publish the so-called viability assessments outlining the economic viability of the planned development for housing of the council’s current Riverside House headquarters.
He wants to see all council meetings filmed and recorded to ensure residents can see how decisions which will affect them are made – a proposal recently rejected by full council.
Mr Western said: “We need to ensure we have the highest standards of accountability and accessibility from our elected representatives.
“Since 2014, all Warwickshire County Council full council meetings have been filmed and in the last few years so have the scrutiny committee meetings. I think it is important that the public has a chance to witness these meetings online and
that they are a matter of record. The public must be able to scrutinise decisions taken and public meetings held by public representatives.
“Of course, the fact that Warwick District Council is refusing to release the viability assessments around the sale of its Riverside House site to fund building itself new council offices is such an example where the public demand openness and this is something that even the Government is now pressing for.
“The public should be able to view council meetings taking place in exactly the same way as the county council and Parliament is recorded.”
But council chiefs hit back saying the public could attend all meetings.
A spokesman said: “Warwick District Council’s public meetings are open for members of the press and public to attend where they can film, audio‐record, photograph or use social media should they wish to do so.
“During these meetings, there may be occasions where recording or reporting is not permitted and members of the press and public are asked to leave under the Local Government Act – when the committee or meeting considers matters involving exempt or confidential information. Members of the press and public in attendance will be notified at the meeting when this exclusion takes place.
While some committees have recorded meetings, technical issues mean not all meeting at Leamington Town Hall can be recorded.
The spokesman added: “At present the council only has the capability to record meetings held within the council chamber at the town hall – so not committee meetings held in other rooms at the town hall – and there is no current capability to broadcast meetings. There are however, on-going investigations into this.
“The decision to record a meetings of full council, the executive, a committee or sub-committee will be down to the individual body. At present only planning and the licensing and regulatory sub-committees have resolved to record all of their meetings. “Although questions have been asked informally no formal proposal has been made, recently, for them to consider if they should be recorded or broadcast.”