A councillor who was informed by the Galway County Council executive that the introduction of technology to facilitate live online steaming of council meetings would cost at least €10,000 plus VAT, has obtained his own quote from a private contractor based in the city and it is substantially lower.
The quote was provided by a company in Liosbaun and it provides for a high spec web cast system, including all necessary hardware and software, as well as set up and testing, for the sum of €2,390 plus VAT. Indeed, the price quoted includes provision of a laptop with integrated software to operate the webcast system, but if this could be run from one of the council’s own IT laptops, the price would be reduced even further to €1,490 + VAT, nearly 10 times cheaper than the council's own quote.
Renua Councillor James Charity proposed online streaming of the meetings following an embarrassing row among councillors in May about seating arrangements in the new chamber at County Buildings. At the time, he labelled the behaviour 'utterly disgraceful'. He believes live streaming would ensure the public can properly monitor the conduct of elected representatives in the chamber. "It will also act as a deterrent to the ridiculous conduct witnessed earlier at the first meeting in the chamber. It is vitally important that transparency and accountability is at the forefront of how our elected members and the council conducts its business.''
A number of councillors have expressed their unhappiness about the quoted cost of facilitating live online streaming of the monthly meetings. County Secretary Michael Owens said there were also costs associated with ensuring data protection issues were met.
Councillor Charity is unhappy with the original quote and says questions must now be asked about obtaining value for money. "We have already spend an extortionate amount of tax and ratepayers' money in providing a new chamber that wasn’t really needed at a cost of nearly €600,000. Part of this cost was supposed to be for IT upgrades, yet here we are being told that additional expenditure will be required in order to simply keep the public apprised of what is going on in their Council. The whole issue of the use of tax and ratepayers money needs to be examined in detail.”