Beautiful democracy

‘As usual this meeting of council is being filmed for live broadcast via the internet so that more people can get a chance to see the meeting live and feel involved in their local democracy.’

— said Lord Mayor Cllr Gillies at the start of last night’s council meeting. Certainly seems to be effective, judging by reaction on Twitter. We were feeling very involved indeed.

If you’d like to watch the meeting from the start, the first part is on this link. It’s split into sections, with others available on this link.

As someone once said, ‘everything is political’. Anyone who cares about the city, its present state and future plans, has to engage to some extent in Guildhall goings-on. It’s much easier to do that these days, as technology takes us into the heart of it all. Last night’s meeting of the council engaged many more people, and in the end it all went rather beautifully, in that it seemed to properly represent the finer and nobler parts of that thing we call democracy.

I just wanted to mention a couple of parts of what was a long and eventful meeting. Four speakers who spoke passionately. These excerpts have been carefully cued to start at the appropriate places – I hope it works. Please do have a watch/listen.

Two councillors


Excerpt from council meeting (click to play)

At the start of proceedings two councillors in my own ward of Clifton made speeches widely reported in the media today. I’ve been waiting for the video to be uploaded, as I think this is one of those times when we need to see and hear them speak, not just read their words, to get the proper picture. They’re introduced by Lord Mayor Ian Gillies.

They’re followed by council leader James Alexander, who during other parts of this long meeting came across very well — he’s an excellent speaker on things he really cares about — but here … well, judge for yourself.

(If the image link doesn’t work, try this link, and go to about 1 min 30 secs.)

I don’t communicate much with my local councillors, and it’s a while since I’ve had any contact with Cllrs Scott and King. It was good to see them speak so honestly. Like many Labour voters in this city I had serious concerns about the current administration here in York and felt I couldn’t vote Labour in the council elections next year. But I can now vote for Cllrs Scott and King, as they clearly care about Clifton and its people, and that’s what matters.

[Update … December 2014 … not so sure now about voting … back to being a floating voter, floating between Labour or Independent Labour or Green. Still thinking about it.]

More on this from the Press

Two York City supporters


Excerpt from council meeting (click to play)

This was the main reason I tuned in to the webcast. That community stadium issue, with its long history, stretching back so many years.

I don’t want the football club to leave Clifton, to leave Bootham Crescent, but I know that it has to, and I know, because I was involved in the protests over a decade ago, how hard won it was, keeping hold of Bootham Crescent for this long. As emphasised here by Sophie Hicks.

She’s followed by Frank Ormston, who talks about the club’s history, to remind those listening why it deserves support in the crucial vote for funding for its future.

(If the image link doesn’t take you to the right bit of the proceedings, try this link, and go to 37 mins 31 secs.)

The vote last night was important to many people packed into the public gallery and watching on a screen in a nearby room, as well as to many of us watching the webcast and discussing it on Twitter.

See The Press for more on the vote on the community stadium plans.

Two other things

Also of interest, and featuring in this unusually eventful meeting, the future of the Burton Stone Community Centre, which may feature in a future page, and that very big issue of the Local Plan, and specifically how many houses and where we’re going to put them. More on those stories later perhaps.

Beautiful digital democracy

City of York council meetings can be viewed live on or on the council’s YouTube channel later.

I wonder what other York residents feel when watching these full council meetings in the Guildhall. I find them always interesting, and in parts very moving. Inspiring even, in the ‘public participation’ section. Watching all those different people, often nervous, passionate, standing up to speak, in that ancient place, so much a part of York’s long history. So many people packed in, all ages, backgrounds.

The party-political bickering can be a bit tedious, and I rarely manage to watch a meeting all the way through, but overall I think it’s an excellent thing that technology enables so many of us to watch the workings of our local democracy.

Comments welcome, but anything personally abusive or vindictive or sweary will be removed, because this is my site, and we don’t like that kind of thing here. It’s not Twitter ;)

About Lisa @YorkStories

Lisa @YorkStories is the creator, administrator, and writer of content on She can be contacted on this link or via Twitter, @YorkStories
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One comment

  1. I believe that local government transparancy, incl webcasts of all meetings, coupled with citizen use of social media is, and will continue to do so, heralding a new era in local government.

    councillors and officers behaviour and decisions are now in full view of the public. some individuals do themselves no favours, others show themselves to be honest, capable and passionate respresentatives of their constituents.

    the quality of local representation can only go up as a result of this.

    on a personal note, council webcasts have now become something to look forward to, to plan my day around. what i witness in these meetings, what i hear, how people conduct themselves, now informs how i will vote.

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