What #ccwebcast says about engaging in local democracy

Today has been a busy one at Public-i. While a small number of us have been at Solace Summit, many more were back at HQ concentrating on Cornwall Council’s extraordinary council webcast.

It saw leader of the council, Alec Robertson, lose a vote of confidence, members of the cabinet resign and a new leader voted in. You can read a local press take on that here.

Such an extraordinary meeting was bound to attract attention but the figures are nonetheless worth reflecting on:-

  • The webcast, using our new Connect Social webcasting service, had 4,489 people live views.
  • The interactive chat, CoverItLive, which you’ll find on Cornwall’s Connect Social webcast player, had 3,981 page views and 242 comments.
  • The hashtag #ccwebcast proved so popular that it trended on Twitter. We think this is probably the first time it has happened to a council meeting in the UK. (While a webcast at Belfast City Council gained huge attention I don’t think there was a dedicated hashtag, but tell me if I’m wrong!)

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As Matt Bond, who operates the webcast and manages all the interaction, points out in his post on the webcast, there’s been a lot of work that has gone into this. Some involves the shift to the new Public-i webcasting service (with a lot of work from both Cornwall and ourselves) – but what really deserves attention is what Cornwall has done to ensure its citizens are able to engage in local democracy.

Not only has the council chosen to webcast, it has gone far further: permitting people to make comments, tweet and as a result become more involved in the meeting process.

Furthermore, Matt and his colleagues have worked with local newspaper websites to embed webcasts, helping to promote the meetings and build impressive viewing figures even prior to today. Most importantly Matt, Hannah Rees and many others at Cornwall have chosen to really take seriously the principle of transparency in local government, reaching out to residents who are using social media and helping to develop a much more open conversation with the public. Today’s numbers help prove that it is paying dividends.

As Matt says in his post…

“I strongly believe that these numbers prove that by enabling people to take an active role in the debate, by marrying up the available technology with transparency and democracy – a direct line into the Chamber – we can encourage more people to take an active interest in local politics.”

Well said. At a time when we are often told people’s interest in local democracy is waning, these figures tell a different tale – and point, we think, to a different future.

Here are just a very small number of the tweets, collected in a Storify… A longer version is here.

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  1. Jason Williams says:

    It was a significantly important day for the future direction of the council but very proud for all the back office staff including democratic services who operated the webcast cameras, the comms team who managed the social media and coveritlive, the web team who with Public-I ensured that the webcast was delivered to such a large number of people was testament to the transparency that has been ongoing with the council.

  2. Thank you Jason – for the comment and for such kind words.

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