The first and most important part of today's events was the way in which Carmarthenshire Council dealt with the 1500 name petition presented by the very elderly campaigners trying to save their Day Club, Noddfa Teilo in Llandeilo. As I arrived an elderly lady was presenting her petition, it was heartfelt and passionate and implored the Council to rethink their plans. Several other Day Club members had also been allowed into the Chamber. Much to their shock, the Chairman, Cllr Ivor Jackson then just moved onto the next agenda item. Cllr Sian Caiach was equally shocked and demanded a debate and consideration of a rethink - she and Cllr Arthur Davies were told to be quiet or leave the Chamber, despite their protestations over the fact that there would be no debate, Chief Executive Mark James, shamefully, decided to only allow the Executive Board Member, Cllr Pat Jones to speak - obviously in support of the Council's plans to close the centre. It was the most outragous display of council 'business' I have seen to date. This was why I was there and why I was filming - people need to know what is going on in that Chamber. That is also why they don't want anyone to record it either, which brings me on to the second event.
You Tube link to; 'Carmarthenshire Full Council Shambles over Day Club'
The second event, as I mentioned in my previous post is what happened when I tried to film this latest travesty of democracy. Clearly my presence was noted when I entered the Public Gallery and when the row commenced over the Day Club, I started filming with my phone, (not terribly well I know but better than nothing) I was asked to leave by the Chairman and Mark James, I said that I was not doing anything wrong, it is not against the law nor even in their standing orders (rules for meetings), neither was I disturbing the meeting in any shape or form. Mr James sarcastically asked whether I now had a good photo of him to put on my website. As I didn't leave, Mr James and the Chair called the police and then adjourned the meeting. Unlike my complaint of assault in the Public Gallery where the police took four days to take my statement and several more to speak to the chap concerned, it only took ten minutes today for two police cars and four police officers to appear in the Gallery. I tried to argue my point but was then arrested in the Public Gallery for 'breaching the peace'. I was taken outside the door, handcuffed, searched, my phone taken and marched out to the waiting police cars. I was then taken 30 miles to Llanelli police station where I remained handcuffed for another hour before being 'processed', and put in a cell for another two hours.
By this time I was very disorientated, worried about my young daughter who needed picking up from school, I was cold (the police had taken my jacket and shoes and socks) and distressed. Without a solicitor present, I was then threatened by three police officers who said that if I didn't sign an 'undertaking' not to film/record any more meetings I would be kept in overnight, I am not sure now whether they could even keep me that long. Earlier in the day I had been told that they was looking at the relevant legislation and were 'talking' to the council, it is now clear exactly what was discussed; 'she probably can't be charged with anything so tell her to sign and you'll let her go'. I am now asking a solicitor about the legality of this and regardless of the outcome I will not abide by something I was forced to sign. I will be back.I was then, eventually, released.
I can't quite believe what happened to me for trying to film a public meeting.
You Tube link to; Full Council Meeting - me filming and events leading to police being called.
I would also like to thank the person in the Public Gallery who kindly agreed to stay with me as a witness until I was taken away.
Here are links to a selection of articles and blog posts;
New Statesman, David Allen Green; Arrested for filming a public council meeting
BBC Wales; Blogger Jacqui Thompson angry at council filming arrest
and Jacqui Thompson arrest: Allow council filming says Tory
Guardian, Greenslade Media Blog; Blogger arrested for filming council meeting
Daily Telegraph 10th June; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8568612/Blogger-arrested-for-filming-during-Carmarthen-County-Council-meeting.html#dsq-content
Daily Mail Online; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2002682/Campaigner-arrested-filming-council-meeting-says-police-completely-reacted.html
South Wales Evening Post; http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Blogger-arrested-filming-council-meeting/story-12750322-detail/story.html
Alexander Smith ; Carmarthenshire Blogger Arrest - How we broke the story
Richard Wilson's Blog; In Carmarthenshire, this is what democracy looks like
The Photon Blog; From Carmarthenshire to the Cynulliad: Filming Council Meetings to be Raised in the Chamber
and Welsh Assembly: Filming Guidance "Does not Apply in Wales"
Broken Barnet; Carmarthenshire County Council: no mercy in their means
Aledwyn.com; What have they got to hide?
Gaz The Journo; Council democracy fail
Neil Monnery Blog; Carmarthenshire Council abuse their power, arrest woman for filming open Council meeting
Autonomous Mind; Abuse of the law and public inertia
Julie Mcanulty; http://juliemcanulty.blogspot.com/2011/06/one-out-of-bed-three-from-canteen.html
Malice in Blunderland; What a week that was
Welshnotnews Blog; Woman accused of witchcraft after filming councillors &gt;This made me smile
Jack of Kent Blog; The unanswered questions for Dyfed Powys Police
Later posts from me;