It seems that Castlereagh Borough Council, some of whose members are normally so reluctant to make meetings and minutes public, are about to join the vast majority of other local councils in Northern Ireland and start to publish their minutes online.
This morning’s Belfast Telegraph brought the news that Castlereagh’s full council meeting in February approved the decision by its Central Services Committee to start “to publish minutes from all council meetings on its website from this week”. They’ll finally be bringing their practice in line with the advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The paper's article noted that “Castlereagh Council will back date minutes on its website for the current electoral term, making them available from 2005”.
But of the 24 local councils in NI that scored one star, Socitm rated Castlereagh’s website joint bottom.
Their team of reviewers pointed to a “lack of customer focussed content” and that “it would be good to … have some online forms etc”. They “couldn't find an events calendar or councillor's allowances/expenses”. But perhaps most importantly, “No search facility found” … “Add a search facility”.
Even with the addition of online minutes, Castlereagh may have some distance to go to get off the bottom of the table in next year’s survey.