Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Recording Council Meetings

Eric Pickles' statement today that bloggers and members of the public should be allowed to make recordings, online films etc of Council meetings has been welcomed by many who hope that such transparency will assist the general public in holding councils to account. I would also welcome such a move, if it happened in Wales. One blogger makes the valid point though that what goes on in the Chamber is often cosmetic democracy and a rubber stamping of decisions. It is the decisions and deals made in the corridors and behind closed doors that are of real importance. So very true in Carmarthenshire.
However, it would be a start and as Carmarthenshire Council has not subscribed, as a fair few other councils have, to live webcasts of meetings on it's website, I thought I'd enquire. I did have a look at the Standing Orders (protocol for meetings) but there was, as far as I could make out, not a mention of recordings and suchlike.
So, with the full Council Budget Debate next Monday (28th Feb) in mind I emailed the 'Democratic Services Unit' with my enquiries;

Dear Sir
Could you please let me know whether, in the interests of transparency, Carmarthenshire County Council would have any objection to members of the public recording committee meetings from the Public Gallery in County Hall. This could be either a sound or video recording which could then be used to illustrate the democratic process to residents of the County. I trust the Council has no objection to the use of mobile phones (on 'silent' of course) by the public in the Gallery to relay information to other residents through social networking sites such as Twitter.
If the Council has any objections to any or all the above, please state why. Please note, I would not expect it necessary to obtain permission prior to each meeting.
A quick response would be welcome prior to the County Council meeting on 28th February.
Thank you

I have been informed that my email has been passed on to the legal department.
I shall post the response here, if and when one arrives.
Regardless of the response, I'll be in the Public Gallery on Monday.

Whilst on the subject of budget cuts, and to illustrate the spin which is so carefully put on unpopular decisions, I noticed that a proposal to close five day centres for elderly people (always an easy target) was 'reported' in the media section of the council website as 'Service development leading to Community Day Club engagement'. There must be someone working in the Council's Press Team who's job it is to select individual 'buzzwords' and randomly re-arrange them in a headline which will have no logical meaning. They must think we're daft. 
Update 25th Feb;

1 comment:

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Plaid Whitegate regularly posts on Planning Committee meetings as do I when there are issues of interest on the Exec Board.