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Webcast to zoom in on Islington politicians?

Greens push for live webcast feed of council proceedings in bid help politicians engage with residents

19 April, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

The Green Party’s Caroline Russell, Islington’s sole opposition councillor

SWITCH off EastEnders, forget the football and there will be no time for those box-set binges. Instead, something far more important could be coming to your screens: Town Hall meetings.

A push to provide a live webcast feed of council proceedings has been promised by the Greens in their elections manifesto. The party says it could help the council engage with residents who feel left out of decisions made on their behalf.

Caroline Russell, the sole Green opposition councillor, said her party have been “realistic” and accepted they are unlikely to take over the council at the boroughwide elections on May 3.

But the Greens have drawn up a series of “pledges” of how to hold Labour, the party in power, to account.

Cllr Russell said: “Residents tell me repeatedly they feel unlistened to by the council. Lots of other councils webcast their meetings. It’s a basic way of having some accountability and to enable people to not have to turn up to council meetings to see what the council are doing.

“It could encourage residents to engage more.”

Also among the 10 pledges, the party wants to make the council a “better landlord”, saying that it has “failed” to tackle long-term dampness issues on estates. They also pledge to keep residents informed about repairs.

Islington Town Hall

Greens want to encourage Islington employers to adopt anonymous CVs to “tackle the barriers to recruitment facing women and BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] workers”.

They are calling for 10km of protected cycle tracks to be built in the next four years.

“We are serious about providing an effective and constructive opposition,” said Cllr Russell. “We could have four, five or six councillors and have people on different council committees.

“The way I’ve worked as a councillor, it was about listening to people and bringing people into the Town Hall to get their issues heard and helping people to campaign.”

In a manifesto of almost 15,000 words, Labour said it would invest £15m in major works on some council estates with damp problems.

However, council leader Richard Watts claimed Cllr Russell “failed to vote in support of over £345million worth of investment” in housing.

Cllr Russell rejected the claim that she had voting against social housing, saying that she had opposed the budget in its entirety.

“I voted against the budget because of Labour unfairness, waste and mismanagement,” she said.

On webcasting, Cllr Watts said: “We did try a pilot several years ago but literally no one was watching it. The technology was different then and it cost the council a fair bit.

“I think the technology is cheaper now. If it’s really a priority for people we will consider it.”


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