Interesting wording on Carmarthenshire Council's latest 'undertaking', the one which everyone is now required to sign before being locked in to the Public Gallery.. "I hereby undertake not to record or film any meetings of the council or it's committees from the public gallery of the Council Chamber at County Hall, Carmarthen until and unless the policy relating to this is reviewed by the Council" (my underlining) So what Policy is that then? There isn't one so how can anyone promise not to breach policy when there is no policy to breach? What right did they have to force people to sign? More to the point, was it legal?
In relation to this and reinforcing the fact that there is no policy, a partial response to the long awaited Freedom of Information request appeared yesterday. I suppose this is why it has taken so long, it has clearly been lingering for some time in someone's in-tray, making it over a week late. I should imagine that with such a spotlight shone on this council over the past few weeks, email, meetings, notes etc would have been extensive and there is surely far more. I believe that the 'legal exemption' clause has been used to hide a multitude of sins and I wonder what 'matter' is 'still under consideraton'
I see they have included a rough estimate of costs for webcasting at £20,000. This seems overly high and I suspect this figure is to deter public interest and support. Mr Jonathan Edwards MP told me that he had heard the costs would be minimal with a sound system already in place - just never used.
I will film their meetings for free of course.
I even thought, naively, that maybe to save face and to dispel the overwhelming belief that they have things to hide, the attitude of the Council may have been different last Wednesday - perhaps they would have just opened the whole meeting up - invited the public to come along and watch/record/film/observe - as long as there was no 'disruption'. They would surely have gained brownie points and could have analysed the 'results' for future reference. But no, they went to the other extreme and turned the place into Fort Knox. What were they worried about?
Even Mr Pickles MP has glanced over the Severn Bridge to pass comment on the #daftarrest of 8th June, whilst addressing a conference of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy on the 7th July he referred to issues of Council transparency and said; "That is why, looking over the Welsh border, I think Carmarthenshire Council were out of line in having a local blogger arrested for the offence of videoing a public Council meeting. It was immensely short-sighted too" Go Eric.
The Council has come under considerable criticism over the way it has handled both the incidents on the 8th June and the strange lockdown on the 13th July