Last night saw the discussion by the council of the proposed 2011 budget for North Lincolnshire.
This saw a drastic drop in funding made available to the council, with previous spending being slashed from ï¿½149m to ï¿½134m.
VisitScunthorpe.Com covered the meeting with a live feed, and also the demonstration outside. Thanks to TheHamst for the photo and video coverage, and Ju and Shoo for admining the live feed remotely. While the meeting was in progress we had 20 members of the public watching our feed and making the occasional comment.
VisitScunthorpe.Com intend to provide coverage of more meetings, either directly by having some one at the meeting to provide a commentary, or depending upon a motion to be discussed by the council in the future, providing a feed which councillors and members of the public can contribute to via twitter. This would allow all councillors to send in messages to the feed, and would also allow feedback from the public. Any one with a smart phone would be able to see immediately any public reaction posted on the feed.
We believe that this is a vital way in which technology can help open up local government and make the political process more available to the public, and would strongly encourage all councillors to support the motion to allow tweeting from the chamber. As more details of this proposal become available VisitScunthorpe will be asking councillors directly to support the motion, and to use the service to help provide the public with a clearer understanding of what goes on at council.
On a personal note I'd like to add that last night was the first time I have attended a council meeting, and I'd strongly reccomend any one with an interest in local government, politics, or more importantly how our taxes are spent to attend council in the public gallery and learn more about how our town is run.
Overall I was impressed not just with the quality of some of the speeches, but also with the behaviour of the public, there was some barracking of some of the Tory speakers from the gallery and lots of support for some of the Labour speakers, but on the whole demonstrators were very well behaved and a credit to their cause.
It was interesting to witness first hand how the council operates and also to gain an insite in to how some of the stories end up in the media generally. One case in point is the way in which news about the Baths Hall is sometimes represented, to believe the Tories, its a white elephant which is going to shackel us in debt for future generations; to beleive the Labour group its an exciting new business venture which will attract visitors to the town and help generate growth. Being there first hand did however allow me to understand properly how the Baths Hall construction is funded and to understand the difference between an agreed capital project (which the Baths Hall is), and last night's budget meeting which was designed to set the revenue required by the council to provide services to the local community. A dificult concept for some to understand, but a very important one when discussing the impact of the project on council tax levels.
Anyway, below is an archive of the meeting, and the protest held outside by various groups.
Those readers who may be interested in opposing the cuts would perhaps like to take advantage of a free bus from Scunthorpe to London on the 26th of March which will be taking people to the TUC Demonstration. The bus is due to leave the Baths Hall at Scunthorpe at 6:30 am on the 26th.
Archive of North Lincolnshire Council 2011 Budget Meeting
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