Blanket ban on broadcasting ‘shutting voters out’

Electoral Reform Society,

Posted on the 20th February 2013

While some communities still face barriers accessing the internet, for others online channels like council websites, Twitter and Facebook are important ways of finding out information.  From big decisions like planning applications, through to everyday information like whether your local school’s shut today, the internet is a powerful tool.

Yet in many Welsh town halls, council bosses are conducting business like it was the last century.

New figures obtained by the Electoral Reform Society show that authorities across Wales are failing to use the internet to engage local residents.  Just two authorities: Cardiff County Council and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority routinely broadcast full council meetings live on the internet.  Powys County Council provides a partial service while Monmouthshire and Torfaen are both exploring plans to broadcast in the future.

Last month, the local government minister Carl Sargeant announced £1.25million of Welsh Government funding to promote the broadcasting of council meetings and improve the range of information available to the public about their town or community council.

21 of Wales’ 25 local councils and national park authorities responded to the Electoral Reform Society’s survey.  We found that:

  • Just four authorities: Cardiff, Monmouthshire, Swansea and Torfaen actively allowed councillors to use social media networks to update voters during full council meetings;
  • 16 of the 21 authorities currently do not broadcast any council proceedings.  Only Cardiff and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority routinely broadcast all full meetings;
  • In Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Isle of Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil and Wrexham local councillors are barred from updating voters during full council meetings using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook;
  • Councils’ corporate use of Twitter and Facebook also varied across Wales.  In the capital, Cardiff council’s official Twitter account had over 13,000 ‘followers’ during the survey period, followed by Swansea with nearly 9,000 and Monmouthshire  on 5,000.  At the opposite end of the table, Ceredigion had just 45 followers for its Welsh language Tweeter feed.

Councils with a blanket ban on broadcasting business are shutting voters out and urgently need to change.

Meetings in Westminster and the National Assembly are broadcast on television and online.  It’s only right that local authorities follow suit and give voters better access. 

 Authorities’ policies on ‘live’ Tweeting and Facebooking during full meetings* 
 Permit activity   Have no policy  Only at the discretion of the meeting chair   Prohibited
Cardiff Caerphilly Pembrokeshire Bridgend
Monmouthshire Conwy Rhondda Cynon Taf Carmarthenshire
Swansea Flintshire Brecon Beacons NPA Isle of Anglesey
Torfaen Gwynedd Pembrokeshire Coast NPA Merthyr Tydfil
Newport Wrexham
Vale of Glamorgan
Snowdonia NPA


*Did not respond: Blaenau Gwent; Ceredigion; Denbighshire; Neath Port Talbot;



Local authorities and followers on Twitter (table below).

Position Council Twitter* Twitter (ENG) Twitter Welsh)


Cardiff 13,223


Swansea 8,857


Monmouthshire 5,004


Vale of Glamorgan 4,500


Wrexham 3,997


Snowdonia NPA 3,936 3,660 276


Pembrokeshire 3,808


Torfaen 3,305


Pembrokeshire Coast NPA 2,906


Powys 2,734


Gwynedd 2,604


Flintshire 2,548


Conwy 1,550 1,436 114


Newport 1,354


Merthyr Tydfil 1,130


Bridgend 931


Ceredigion 742 697 45


Brecon Beacons NPA 687


Carmarthenshire 673


Anglesey 318 198 120
RCT 0**


*For authorities operating separate  English language and Welsh language Twitter fields, these figures provide the combined total.

** RCT Twitter feed not yet launched during time of survey.

Did not respond: Blaenau Gwent; Ceredigion; Denbighshire; Neath Port Talbot; Caerphilly


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