On Friday June 24, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) took its first step towards installing a new website, however, within a short time the Independent fielded comments about not being able to access monthly meeting documents.
Visiting CVC’s web page verified the claim, with only minutes (no attachments) from this year’s meetings accessible.
The new meeting page also carried advice that all of CVC’s meeting related documents – minutes, agendas and web casts – “held in the council chamber at Grafton or Maclean Administration Centres will be recorded and published on council’s website for a period of up to three (3) months”.
“Members of the public wishing to access a meeting recording that is older than 3 months will need to submit a GIPA application.”
The Independent contacted CVC and lodged an inquiry at 11am on Friday and confirmed it had been forward to acting general manager Laura Black, pointing out that the Office of Local Government’s (OLG) ‘Guide to webcasting council and committee meetings, August 2020’ “requires councils to make their webcast recordings publicly available on their website for a minimum of 12 months”.
This, the guide states, will “ensure appropriate community scrutiny of council and committee deliberations and decision making”.
At the time of writing, CVC had made some adjustments to the meeting page, removing the three-month and GIPA (Government Information Access Application] references.
“As we have transitioned to our new website some technical difficulties have arisen in publishing historical meeting documents,” the page stated at noon on Monday (the paper’s editorial deadline). “We ask for your patience as these matters are rectified.
“In the meantime, if you need help finding minutes or attachments please contact our executive support team on 6643 0212.”
Meanwhile, a response to the paper’s inquiry, which included related questions, had not arrived before the deadline.
The Independent asked: Previously, the public has been able to access all of CVC’s minutes and attachments; why is CVC restricting access to those records, rather than providing links [to all previous CVC meetings] on the website as it previously did?