From: K THOMPSON <email@example.com>
To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, 12 October 2012, 14:14
Subject: Carmarthenshire Council - Access to meetings
To; Mr Carl Sargeant AM
Minister for Local Government and Communities
National Assembly for Wales
Further to your suggestion, via twitter that I contact you in the 'usual' way I am contacting you via an open email.
I know you are aware of the unwelcoming, undemocratic, and unlawful entry restrictions to Carmarthenshire Council's public gallery. Including the fact that visitors are escorted to, and locked into, the gallery. You have made your views clear in earlier correspondence that, despite being Minister with responsibilities for access to public meetings, you are content for this appalling practice to continue.
I note also that the Council's continuing actions fly in the face of your own guidance which was to encourage Local Authorities to welcome members of the public who wished to record meetings.
However, last Wednesday, for the second time I am aware of, a 15 year old child, accompanied by his mother was forced to sign the unlawful undertaking not to film or record the meeting, and give his address, before being allowed into the public gallery to observe the council meeting. As you are also aware, there is no clause within the Council's Constitution prohibiting the recording of meetings.
Whilst you are clearly, for whatever reason, reluctant to intervene and lift the restrictions for adults, I cannot believe that you are not outraged by this treatment of a child. Can you imagine what impression of local 'democracy' this leaves on a youngster? Never mind the myriad of human rights and Data Protection issues this raises?
Please do not advise me to make a complaint to Carmarthenshire Council. As you will be aware it was an 'operational decision' by senior officers to implement the measures in the first place, there was no democratic debate nor any decision by our elected representatives.
I cannot believe you are not appalled by this latest development involving a youngster and I trust you will agree with me, act within your remit, and bring this unlawful behaviour by Carmarthenshire Council to an end.
I look forward to your reply.
I have also sent this email to the Western Mail