Alliance councillor calls for increased transparency around Newry Mourne and Down District Council
Rowallane Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown, is continuing to urge the Newry Mourne and Down District Council to take steps to increase the transparency and accountability of council members, by calling for “all council meetings to be available online.”
This request comes in the wake of a recent council decision to use the popular video conferencing platform, Zoom, to host virtual meetings of both council and committee sessions, following a trial reunion of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee. The move is now welcomed by many Councillors, in light of Covid-19, despite being not so welcome in the past.
Councillor Brown, Rowallane DEA said: “As we move forward, we are all unsure as to what the new normal should look like. I am pleased alongside others that Council is embracing the challenge of utilising technology to change how it operates, allowing for effective local government to continue. However, this is a proposal that the Alliance Party had been championing for sometime, and we have frequently been met with resistance.
“It is hoped that if successfully implemented, the virtual meetings will allow Councillors to carry out vital Council and committee work from the safety of their own homes. However, the Alliance Party have been pushing for this over the last four years, suggesting that all Council meetings should be either live-streamed or recorded, and subsequently published online, with video footage included.”
Councillor Brown said: “Whilst the move to virtual meetings is encouraging, these measures should have been taken prior to the emergence of Covid-19, not because of it.
“Since 2016, I have been calling for Council meetings to be accessible by local constituents online. This increases transparency and allows residents to see for themselves how those that they elected are representing them.
“I hope that Council meetings are made available for all, and that this continues beyond the current crisis that we all facing, and becomes our new normal.”
A council spokesperson said: ““Newry Mourne and Down District Council is currently determining the best mechanism by which to hold Council and Committee meetings going forward. Once determined, the press and public will be notified.”