All a-Twitter over council's first broadcast

Councillors waved to friends, tweets requested speeches be more passionate and residents emailed in questions to be asked during debates.

No, it wasn't an episode of Q&A, it was Wollongong City Council's first live broadcast of a council meeting.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery conceded the broadcast did have some unexpected consequences that the council may need to address through a new policy.

The live broadcast on Monday night, combined with communications via email, Twitter, iPads and smartphones, "took community engagement to a new level", Cr Bradbery said.

He said new rules and boundaries might be needed to deal with the two-way communication that flowed between the councillors and others during the meeting.

"For example people are not allowed to approach councillors during the meeting from the gallery, which I had to address at one stage, yet we had people emailing councillors from home ... what is the difference?" Cr Bradbery asked.

"Also councillors are told to turn their phones off and put them on silent. Is that because we don't want phones to ring during the meeting, or is it to stop people communicating?

"Are the iPads allowed for councillors to read their business papers or to send emails?"

Cr Bradbery said councillors were this week realising they may be under more scrutiny at meetings now thanks to the live broadcast - which he felt was fine.

An avid tweeter - often during council meetings - Cr Michelle Blicavs said the broadcast was a great way for the community to interact.

"I have tweeted during meetings to advise people what is going on, and I tweeted on Monday telling people to watch ... but we do need to be careful the council meeting doesn't become like Q&A," Cr Blicavs said.

"It is clear the community wants to interact more with the council, whether online or in person.

"I will say I have never asked a question at a meeting from a Twitter comment, or an email for that matter, and I don't know if I would.

"But if another councillor wants to ask a valid question based on email received during a meeting then I have no problem with that ... although I know others do.

"Twitter is a new form of communication that is slowly being being taken up - even by the Pope," Cr Blicavs said.

The council meetings are broadcast live on the internet through http://webcasts.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/video.php.

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