The Bristol Evening Post is claiming a first for the UK regional press as it broadcasts council meetings live on its website, thisisbristol.co.uk.
The “webcasts” of Bristol City Council meetings began last night with live coverage of the 6pm meeting, and the video is available on the site today.
European Union money is paying for the cameras and monitors installed in the council chamber and in one of the committee rooms at the Council House. The aim of the webcasts is to encourage interest in what the council and its 70 members get up to.
Editor Mike Norton said: “We’re delighted to have come to this arrangement with Bristol City Council to offer users of our website – www.thisisbristol.co.uk – something completely different.
“We will continue to have the best coverage of the council and its affairs in the Evening Post, but we’ll add to this coverage by being able to broadcast the most important meetings in full on our website.
“We’re expecting people to use this feature in different ways.
“They will be able to see their local councillor in action and we’ll also be able to guide them to sections of the meetings that may be particularly important to them.”
Over the coming months meetings of the full council, the ruling cabinet and planning committee will be in front of the cameras.
The council will monitor the number of hits and carry out surveys to find out how popular the new system is.
The webcasts can also be viewed on www.bristol.gov.uk/webcasts.
A council spokesman said: “We are doing this in order to improve public access to our democratic processes, increase openness and better explain the role and work of the council and its councillors.
“At the moment, we are webcasting full council meetings, cabinet meetings and Climate Change Select Committee, but hope to extend our coverage in the future.”
Fifty other local authorities across the country already webcast their meetings.