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Public get chance to see live webcast of planning meeting

As part of its drive to make democracy more transparent and open, Herefordshire Council is to carry out a trial webcast of a planning meeting on Wednesday, February 1 at 10.30am.

The webcast, which will be available by logging onto the council's website at http://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/, will allow residents to watch local democracy at work as the planning committee debates and decides the outcome of a series of planning applications.

John Jones, Herefordshire Council's electoral services manager, said: "Making local government more transparent and accessible is one of our priorities as a council and providing webcasts is one popular way of doing this.

"It also increases the accessibility of such meetings to members of the public and staff who cannot travel to meetings or miss them because of other commitments.

"If you were to try and broadcast council meetings on TV, the cost would run into many millions of pounds but webcasting only needs a one-off outlay for equipment.

"We are trialling it at one of our planning meetings because a lot of members of the public already attend these and the webcast will mean they don't have to travel to Hereford but can instead watch proceedings from the comfort of their own homes.  

"Most councils in the country webcast all of their public meetings and here in Herefordshire we have decided to first have this trial run.

"We will then take into account feedback received from councillors, officers and residents on whether it is worth considering extending webcasting to all of our public meetings.

"People can either watch the webcast live or can watch it when they get home from work and all they need is a Broadband connection to do so.

"We are aware some people have very slow broadband connection and would urge them to ensure they fill in a questionnaire being circulated at the moment as part of the county's campaign to get superfast broadband," he added.

Herefordshire Council would welcome feedback on the webcast and what residents thought of it. Please send your views to John Jones, email jjones4@herefordshire.gov.uk so they can be considered as part of the trial.