It’s a shame we couldn’t broadcast Pompey vote

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

CLIVE SMITH: English pigs? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

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My colleague Joe Nimmo did a cracking job sending live updates from the crucial debate by Portsmouth City Council on whether or not to loan money to fans seeking to save Pompey.

Joe’s minute-by-minute snippets gave visitors to our website portsmouth.co.uk a comprehensive insight into how the debate was going and how, eventually, councillors agreed to make £1.4m available for the Pompey Supporters’ Trust if necessary.

But good as Joe’s coverage was, councillors had before the meeting thwarted our wishes to provide voters with an even better service.

We had intended to broadcast live streaming footage of the meeting so that people could see and hear their councillors in action as they reached a decision on such an important issue.

Under council rules, we needed permission and, despite our protestations, councillors voted against allowing us to broadcast live from the council chamber.

For us, and I am sure for many Pompey fans and council taxpayers, it was a disappointing decision.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson sought to defend it by saying that the authority did not want piecemeal live broadcasts from its debates – it was either all of them or none of them.

Frankly, I don’t understand this argument.

Why deny thousands of people a chance to see democracy in action on major issues just because not many people want to see every single debate on every issue?

People can of course watch the Commons on TV but, whereas major broadcasters regularly show Prime Minister’s Question Time and other major debates as they happen, they don’t broadcast the vast majority of Parliament’s deliberations.

One alternative is for a local authority council to itself broadcast all its meetings live, as Hampshire County Council has done.

But that requires considerable investment, which Portsmouth City Council has not made.

It’s a shame then that councillors would not let us do the job for them on such a crucial occasion.

Their decision not to smacked of a ‘rules is rules’ outlook rather than one in which a pragmatic approach could be taken to keeping up with developing trends in the free flow of information.