Thursday, 7 July 2011

Local Views on #daftarrest

One of my local newspapers, the South Wales Guardian has a short column every week titled 'Bit's and Bob's'. Often critical of Carmarthenshire Council, here is this week's column;

"I see our old friends at Carmarthenshire Council have made the pages of Private Eye after calling in the police over the woman who was recording a meeting on her mobile phone.
Well done lads. What a better advert for west Wales than to tell the world we don't beleive in democracy or freedom of speech down here.
All part of Carmarthenshire's march into the past. They've always shied away from the public, probably because so many of their decisions are so daft. Indeed, only a select few councillors are allowed inside the wall of secrecy. Most are kept at arms length.
Once the Council held a meeting in Welsh with no translation facilities. Admirable, you might argue. Except my impresson was councillors only did it because they thought I, the only journalist present, wouldn't understand.
Contrast that with the community council that always met in Welsh that turned to English in front of me because it was proud that readers would get to know it's views.
Things weren't so bad before Carmarthenshire existed. Twenty five years ago I tape recorded a meeting of one of the constituent councils as an experiment for the Talking Newspaper for the Blind. A friend who was an HTV cameraman regularly filmed in council chambers with big lights and maximum disturbance.

And what's happening with the police investigation? When can we expect charges of wasting police time against the council representatives who called them in?

In the same newspaper, thanks also goes to 'name and address supplied' from lower Brynaman for their tremendous letter of support.

From the wider world, another article has appeared about me and the #daftarrest, this time in the E-Government Bulletin - Woman Seeks Legal Advice Over Council Filming Arrest 

As for news of my request for an apology from the Chairman, Cllr Jackson (on behalf of the Council) there has been a deafening silence. A little bird tells me though that there is something of a smear campaign against me going on in County Hall. This information is re-inforced by the recent correspondence I have had from the Chief Executive. His choice of words is not only personally abusive but highly unprofessional, I wonder whether he writes alone, in the confines of the Presidential Suite or whether he passes it by the legal department before popping it in the post? Judging by the tone I think the former is the only explanation.

Clearly I am going to have a fight on my hands. The Agenda for next week's full Council meeting has been published and I will be very curious to see, next Wednesday, whether any Councillors, with regards to Item7, refuse to 'sign off' as correct the Minutes for the meeting of the 8th June.
I am seriously considering taking up a suggestion left by one of my commenters, and that is to ask Dyfed Powys Police to escort me to the Public Gallery next week. Perhaps they will provide safe passage for me to exercise my democratic and human rights to attend the meeting without interference from the Council? I shall have to phone and ask.


Marianne said...

The public are waking up and according to the journalist who wrote that piece in the "bits & bobs" CCC prefer it that we - the public - remain in a state of sleep and accept whatever they wish the spoon feed us with. This has to end, by whatever means. The fact that your misfortune is bringing it out in the open (world-wide before long!)can only be a good thing. However, it remains appalling that not only have you not even received a written apology from both the chief executive and Ivor Jackson as Chair! Have you thought about getting the Ombudsman involved now as this is unacceptable behaviour and certainly against their Code of Conduct? Good luck, do not let it drop and yes, I would enquire with the police as you most probably will need protection next week. Keep writing, do not give up and you have masses of support!! Marianne

Andrew Lye said...

I hope to attend on Wednesday as an observer.

CCC dont need to worry (as no doubt they will read this!), I wont be recording it.

CCC is in the media spotlight and I trust they will stop digging and realise the errors of their ways and that they will make a public apology to JT and that one will also come from Dyfed Powys Police.

I hope you get your Police escort INTO the Council Chamber as you have good reason to fear that they might use illegal means to exclude you. As a member of the public and especially as a Carmarthenshire Council Tax payer, you have a greater right than even me, as I am from downtown Pembrokeshire.