Home > Main blog > Filming of council meetings – self service or public service?

Filming of council meetings – self service or public service?

As we all know, around  250 people were refused admission to the council chamber for the meeting of 8th January 2014 when they turned up to see local governance in action. They were refused admission on the grounds of health and safety. The turnout was entirely predictable and Arun’s officers seemed ill prepared.

Towards the end of the same meeting there was a debate on the filming of council meetings. A number of councillors expressed concern that, if members of the public were to film council meetings, there was a risk that such film might be used to satirise, pillory or misrepresent councillors. Those councillors spoke of the need for the council to film meetings itself, not as a service to the public,  but in order to create a record of the meeting as a protective measure for councillors. In the interests of balance it should be noted that a small number of councillors did speak in favour of filming council meetings and that they were critical of the stance taken by some of their colleagues.

If the council were to film meetings itself and webcast them (as a service to the public not as a self-serving protection measure!) two things would be likely to happen. First, there would be little need for the public to film proceedings anyway, and secondly, the council would own the copyright which would provide some protection against possible abuse. It’s nothing new – WSCC have been doing it for years.

It is sad that, on a night when 250 members of the public were prevented from attending the meeting, a number of members showed little or no interest in the public service opportunity presented by the filming/webcasting of council meetings!

Some councillors need reminding of the difference between self service and public service!

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