Tuesday 28 June 2011

Minutes for #Daftarrest Council Meeting

Carmarthenshire Council have FINALLY published the minutes for the #daftarrest full council meeting on the 8th June, this is how the incident has been reported;

I had not interrupted proceedings, neither was I disruptive. I really hope this is not signed off as a 'correct record'.

And there you have the timescale,  the police were phoned, four officers and two police cars arrived , I was arrested and 'removed'; ALL THIS within 15 minutes, this must be a record for Dyfed Powys Police or the Council has a hotline to it's very own Rapid Response Team. 

While we're looking at the minutes, (here's a link) You will also notice Item 6, the presentation of the Day Club Petition which bears absolutely no resemblence to the row that broke out nor the efforts by Cllr Caiach to have a debate on the subject, most of which can be seen on one of the You Tube clips.

Clearly filming Carmarthenshire Council's meetings should be a top priority. Plaid Cymru's Jonathan Edwards MP (@JonathanPlaid) phoned me yesterday to express his views on the matter and also spoke on behalf of my Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas. He fully supports Cllr Dyfrig Thomas' call to for Carmarthenshire Council to webcast all possible meetings, stating that such a record would be invaluable, and the costs would be minimal. He said that if nothing happened soon then it would form part of Plaid's manifesto for next year's local elections. I rather hope though that something does happen soon.
I of course maintain that members of the public should be free to film and record public meetings as well.

He also expressed his shock over my treatment and said that as regards Carmarthenshire Council, it was definitely "not their finest hour". No it wasn't and I appreciate his support.

Excellent post from Anglesey blogger, The Photon, this morning on the issue of filming council meetings;
IOACC: FoIA Response to Filming Council Meetings and asks a question that no Local Authority has yet to answer.


Dyfed Powys Police have responded to criticism over my #daftarrest. Along with the Council Minutes as above, also coincidentally released today, I am finding it difficult to believe what I am reading.
I will have to collect my thoughts and comment later.
More determined than ever to try and challenge all this.


Marianne said...

The timescale of 15 minutes to respond is absolutely fantastic if it has been a real urgent incident! Very clear to me that the police either was forwarned or alternatively treat calls from CCC with top priority! Why? Another prime example of tax payers money wasted down the drain!
Glad that Plaid are expressing their support, but where are all the others?? Good luck, Caebrwyn, keep hanging in there and you certainly have my support.

Corgisnapper said...

I was delighted with the response of Jonathan Edwards MP who always answers my emails promptly. I sent him and Rhodri G the link given me by another of your enthusiastic supporters. So glad they followed up. The same link was also sent to Cllr Mair Stephens, county councillor for St Ishmael ward, where I live. I hope you heard from her toooooo.

Cneifiwr said...

There must be another county council in a parallel universe because the minutes here don't seem to have much to do with what happened in Carmarthen on 8 June.

Readers will note that the meeting went on to accept a whole raft of reports from the various committees without, apparently, any questions or comment. Let's just take one of them - the Health and Social Care committee. The report sets out proposals for "developing" (i.e. closing) day clubs for the elderly. The scrutiny committee overseeing it noted the proposals and said it would like to be kept informed before any final decisions were made. But the clubs were closed anyway. The WRVS, etc. will receive money from the council to run the services this year - but what about next year? Nobody knows, and nobody asked. I could go on.

The councillors are meant to be there to form and drive policy and to hold the unelected officers to account. That's what we pay them for. Money back, please.

Anonymous said...

The fact the meetings are also only available in English goes against the welsh language act and the counties language policy, it's disgusting that they're prepared to ignore a hefty 63% of the counties population whom speak Welsh.

Cneifiwr said...

Cymro i'r Carn is dead right - you can follow the links, click on "Cofnodion", and what you get is the minutes in English. That tells you all you need to know about the council's language policy, signed off recently to the sound of trumpets by Cllr Scourfield and Bwrdd yr Iaith.

As usual, the paper policies and fine words say one thing; the reality is rather different.

Teifion said...

there must be some ombudsman who ensure that lies are not allowed?

Photon said...

Hmm. That is factually incorrect, so cannot be allowed to stand.

What would a court do? Look at the ordinary meaning of words. Here we go - D, dis, disrupt:

"interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem." (OED online)

Holding a camera as occurred did not interrupt, disturb or cause a problem - until the Chair took issue over something that has yet to be properly, sensibly justified.

At some point, it becomes much easier to say 'sorry' than carry on digging a deeper hole...

Anonymous said...

This whole debacle of shameful dodgy council in bed with 'institutionally incompetent' (see the Robbie Powell case) Dyfed Powys Police, observed by inept dumb councillors, is every reason why CCC, it's officers and it's councillors must be filmed during the call of their public duties. Taxpayers have every right to know what lackeys their councillors are. If councillors carried out their duties and acted in the interests of their ward members, it would be a councillor led authority, not officer led, we would have fairer debate and possibly democracy would be reinstated.

Dic Deryn said...

To answer Photon's implied question - did the chair take issue to something else? Well, both Cllr Caiach and Caebrwyn have red hair. And we all know how dangerous red-headed women can be.

Adam said...

I find the latest police statement astonishing. They seem to just take it as read that the council chair has an absolute right to exclude anyone from meetings for any reason. That can't be right, surely?

Anyway, good on you for fighting this.

Photon said...

Adam makes a very good point. It does seem that the police had a presumption of authority by the Chair to kick Jacqui out. But nobody at the council has produced any convincing evidence that this authority existed.

I feel this is where the police got it wrong, and similarly feel they should apologise. Of course, the council had no need to call the police in the first place, so there is a place for apology from them, too.

Bob said...

In fact the Council's standing orders, if applied correctly, should have PROTECTED Ms Thompson from being excluded from the meeting, as the rules are very clear on what grounds a member of the public may be excluded - the rules are here: http://bit.ly/iwnP6G - look at rules CPR 20 "Exclusion of public" and CPR 22 "Disturbance by public". Rule 20 reads "Members of the public and press MAY ONLY be excluded either in accordance with the Access to Information Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution or Rule 22 (Disturbance by Public)" (emphasis mine). Rule 22 reads "If a member of the public INTERRUPTS proceedings, the Chair will warn the person concerned. If they CONTINUE TO INTERRUPT, the Chair will order their removal from the meeting room." - clearly, quietly filming did not interrupt in any way. The Access to Information Rules cited in Rule 20 are here: http://bit.ly/j1juqv - Rule 3 of which reads "Members of the public may attend all meetings subject ONLY to the exceptions in these rules.", and the body content of the document sets forth definitions of the kinds of confidential or restricted information whose discussion might lead to the Council excluding the public from a meeting - none of which applies in this case.

The standing orders of the council therefore explicitly deny the council the authority to either eject Ms Thompson from particular public meetings for filming, or to ban her from future public meetings, or to set conditions to avoid such a ban - other than the condition that she won't "interrupt".

caebrwyn said...

Thanks for that, you are exactly right. According to the council's published rules there was no reason for the council to either act as they did nor instruct the police to remove me 'unequivocally' in the manner they did, for quietly filming a public meeting. I will be challenging both Authorities in due course.