Sunderland council asked to put videos of meetings online

TRANSPARENCY CALL: Local election candidate Dominic McDonough wants to see council meetings posted online.
TRANSPARENCY CALL: Local election candidate Dominic McDonough wants to see council meetings posted online.
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COUNCIL meetings should be filmed to open up decision makers to greater scrutiny from voters, according to a May election hopeful.

Conservative candidate Dominic McDonough is calling on Sunderland City Council to post videos of meetings online, to increase openness and transparency.

We should be allowed to see politics in action, and, if refused I would ask what councillors are afraid of?

Conservative candidate Dominic McDonough

And the authority has responded by saying it is looking into the best options for bringing this about. If implemented, Sunderland would become the third of the six North East councils to post videos of meetings on the web, alongside South Tyneside and Newcastle.

St Chad’s hopeful Mr McDonough says he believes that the council has fallen behind when it comes to engaging with the public.

“Having worked with a number of councils across the country I have seen first hand how filming of council meetings opens up democracy and makes politicians more accountable,” he said.

“This would help to stop a reputation of politicians in the city being unaccessible and show that democracy does not just go on behind the scenes. The state of the city debate has been available online for a number of years and is watched by a number of people.

“Most residents in the city will not have witnessed a debate in the council chamber due to work commitments, lack of time or simply not realising that they can. This would be an inexpensive way to change that in a city that had seen election turnout as low as 29 per cent. We should be allowed to see politics in action, and, if refused I would ask what councillors are afraid of?”

Council leader Paul Watson said: “Dozens of meetings open to the public are held every year and the City Council has always welcomed people to them.

“In line with other councils, and for anyone unable to attend in person, we are looking at filming options and how they can be provided at least cost and best value to the council tax payer.”