Northamptonshire County Council public meeting broadcasts end due to spending controls

One Angel Square
One Angel Square

Northamptonshire County Council’s public meetings will not be broadcast live while spending limits are in place at the authority.

Under the terms of the Section 114 notice issued last week, the council cannot spend money on any services other than its statutory services and on the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

The council would need to renew a software licence in order to continue webcasting the meetings, which it cannot do with the notice in place.

A council spokesman said: “Immediate spending controls have been put in place on all expenditure with the exception of safeguarding vulnerable people and statutory services as a result of the Section 114 notice issued last week.

“Therefore the decision has been made not to renew our licence for webcasting meetings, which costs over £11,000 per year and clearly does not meet this criteria.

“To retain openness and transparency in our democratic process, council meetings continue to be open for members of the public to attend, while our @nccdemocracy Twitter account will be posting key updates throughout meetings.

“A decision sheet is also published on our website within two working days of each meeting.”

The county council’s Democratic Services explained on Twitter it had evaluated quotes for a new software licence contract after the existing one expired at the start of February.

However, the procurement of a new licence ended in the wake of the Section 114 notice.

Democratic Services also broke down the costs of webcasting the meetings when it tweeted: “The cost is comprised software licence fee (x2), tech support and hosting for 120 hours of content per year, plus staff time.

“Hardware such as PTZ cameras was purchased some time ago so costs minimal, but software required to make everything work.”

There was a suggestion the meetings could be live streamed on social media via Facebook Live or Periscope.

But the council reasoned that as one of its employees would have to undertake the task of filming, this would result in the staff member having to be paid for the extra work.