Call for video conferencing at Camden Council to cut travel costs

Cllr Johnny Bucknell. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Cllr Johnny Bucknell. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A Camden councillor is calling for the town hall to “embrace the technological revolution” and let councillors use video conferencing when they cannot attend meetings to save time and money spent on trains.

Conservative Cllr Johnny Bucknell, who represents Belsize Park ward, thinks the council could save around 25 per cent of the money it spends on travel for councillors attending meetings across the UK by using video link services, such as Skype.

As part of the council’s constitution, councillors must be present at meetings to be able to vote on council matters – meaning that video conferencing services cannot be used instead of physically attending.

But Cllr Bucknell has called for Camden to do away with this part of the constitution.

He said: “I think Camden Council needs to embrace the technological revolution.

“This is uncharted territory so I don’t know how many savings can be made until it’s in place. But I think around 25 per cent of savings could be made.

“I have brought this up with the chief executive and he says that it’s coming. It’s coming but it is coming very slowly.”

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Cllr Bucknell admits that others are more hesitant about introducing video conferencing.

“People are still shy of using it because of what happens if it breaks down and because parts of the country have a shortage of broadband,” he said.

Councillors’ travel cost the council £1,417.10 in 2010-11.

A council spokesman said: “Camden’s all party Democratic Review Working Group is looking at all aspects of digital interaction as part of a wider review around the decision making process.

“Current legislation governing formal council meetings requires members to be present when voting.”