Following on from my last couple of posts about Blackpool Youth Question Time, I’ve taken a bit more of an interest in the politics at play in Blackpool. I’m currently following both Blackpool Conservative Councillor Paul Galley and Labour Councillor Chris Maughan on Twitter as a result of the event, which is why I was a bit miffed when I realised that neither of them had tweeted about today’s budget meeting for 2012/13.
As some of my readers will know, the setting of the budget is an important event as it dictates what money will be spent in the area, on which services and approximately when. With the council having to find savings at every turn in the current economic climate, this year’s budget is something most of us are going to be affected by one way or another and I was disappointed to realise that we weren’t being kept in the loop regarding it. In fact, the only reason I knew the budget meeting was taking place today was because I saw this tweet;
At this point, it became alarmingly apparent that there was barely a scrap of information available about the meeting even taking place today. I dug a little further and realised that neither the council home page, or the local newspaper found the meeting to be newsworthy. How disappointing!
Having just popped back to the council’s site, I’m pleased to see this post about the budget taking centre stage, but is it really enough? It smacks of ‘too little, too late’ to me.
In this day and age, information availability is key to success and I feel on this occasion the council let themselves down. Not only was there a lack of transparency about this meeting taking place, but also on it’s importance and impact on Blackpool residents. What I’m really trying to say is that for whatever reason, the online coverage of the budget meeting was poor, if not non-existent and I don’t think that’s acceptable.
There are examples all over the show of other councils doing a brilliant job of providing real-time event coverage (here, here and here), and if Blackpool Youth Question Time was anything to go by (being broadcast live on the web with live tweet commentary) it’s not like Blackpool Council lacks the resources to be able to pull off a live broadcast, or updates & tweets live from a meeting, so why didn’t they use what they had at their disposal?
I’d really like to see better coverage of these key events in the future and I know Blackpool Council can do it, because I’ve seen it done! Perhaps this gap in quality, reliable coverage is the perfect opportunity for a hyperlocal news outlet? Here’s hoping.