The live broadcast of Carmarthenshire County Council's monthly meetings has until today been executed professionally, with good camera work and generally clear sound, but today's meeting appears to have been a shambles from beginning to end. The broadcast was unavailable for a huge chunk of the session, including the entire presentation by the Scarlets to councillors. If that was not embarrassing enough, the interpreter seems to have disappeared at some point, forcing everyone to switch to English, and then there were repeated problems with the sound. Sometimes it was because councillors forgot to switch on their mikes (and the Chair forgot to remind them), and sometimes the sound was just switched off; mysteriously this only seemed to happen to councillors such as Labour's Bill Thomas, who was cut off in the middle of some comments which won't have gone down well with the bosses.
All of this may be coincidence, but the powers-that-be have been making increasingly threatening noises about the future of filming the monthly council meetings, and it is obvious that there are those in senior positions who would dearly like to see this experiment in transparency brought to an end. The argument put forward at a meeting of the Democratic Services committee at the end of November was that the demands of filming the meetings are such, that staff are severely over-stretched.
Hey presto, a couple of weeks later and the public and councillors were given a taste of what the senior officers meant.
The numbers of viewers may be relatively low, and today's episode won't help, but far, far more people have watched council meetings online than ever used to sit in the gallery.
So while more and more Welsh councils start filming their meetings, it seems that Carmarthenshire is about to turn the clock back, and insist that the only way the public can find out about what happens in council meetings is by taking time off and perching uncomfortably in the gloomy surroundings of the public gallery.
The farce continued right up to the final seconds after the Chair had closed the meeting. As he turned to leave the meeting he spoke to Dave Gilbert, Director of Regeneration, who was standing in for the absent Mark James. "And I thought it was going so well.....", he complained before the mikes went dead.