For some weeks past, Carmarthenshire County Council has been asking people on its website if they would watch live streaming video of council meetings, and voting was unsurprisingly running heavily in favour of opening things up. By this morning around 320 people had voted for, while about 56 had voted against.
The question itself was phrased in a slightly odd way, and suggests that if and when the council does finally get round to it, viewers would only be able to view meetings in real-time (i.e. during normal working hours on weekdays) rather than at a time of their own choosing.
Perhaps it was a technical glitch, or perhaps somebody did not like the way people were voting, but at some point this morning, the poll was reset. If you had voted before, you cannot vote again, and so far only a handful of new votes have been cast.
Whatever the reason, the near 400 people who thought that their votes would count and that their voice might be heard have now been subjected to the Carmarthenshire consultation experience.
Without wishing to sound unduly alarmist, we should of course remember that the council's chief executive is also the county's returning officer in elections. Let's hope votes don't get "lost" in May.
Your views have been recycled. Whatever they were.
Update 1 March: The poll has now disappeared altogether. The council website is notoriously wobbly; things come and go; links work and then stop working; parts just don't work at all for weeks on end. A bit like the council, really.
Clear your cookies. Depending on what browser you are using you might be able to delete the specific cookie called AEPoll2 under Carmarthen Council.
Refresh the page, vote yes, click enter.
Alternatively you could always visit their site on your phone or another browser, computer etc.
If someone was bored enough they could keep doing the above all day.
There's no sign of the poll at the moment, although it was there this morning.
I sent an e-mail to CCC concerning this and this was their reply:
"Thanks for your email regarding the online poll. This is the first time that we’ve used an online poll and there was a technical glitch, however we were able to retrieve the results prior to this and collate them with the results that were received after it was reset, these were as follows:
369 – Yes
43 - No
The results will be published on the website later today. The reason the poll was reset was because a user voted internally on the backend website and when the website was automatically published it overwrote the existing information. I had no idea that this could happen or that someone would indeed vote in this way. This will be addressed as a training issue and will hopefully not happen on any future online polls. If you would like to become part of our Citizens Panel where you can have your say on public services then please let me know and I can send you the relevant information.
Many thanks for your email."
I still say they are in the business of hoping for live streaming instead of producing an archive.
I'm leary about having the meetings filmed, I'm more interested in getting good quality audio of the meetings, because I listen to a lot of podcasts (there is only so much radio 4 I can take and like being able to listen on the go).
I also think that it will be a lot more cost effective than getting it filmed. On the BEEB it said that Pembrokeshire was looking at spending about 15k a year filming the meetings.
I'm all for transparency but I'm not sure that just because we could film a thing it's the best use of resources.
What do others think?
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