Thursday 19 February 2015

Why Councils should broadcast their meetings.


Quite rightly the government has told local councils that they aren't allowed to unreasonably refuse people the right to photograph or film meetings. Yet this has yet to filter through to Councillors who are worried that the films or photographs might given a spin making the Council or councillors look bad.

Indeed this has happened here in Bradford where our Regulatory & Appeals Committee is upset because, at a meeting where permission was given for housing on a site at Apperley Bridge, a video was made that - quite creativeif a little long-winded - included a commentary that was less than complementary about the Councillors making the decision.

Yesterday the film-makers bobbed up again - this time to film the deliberations of a proposal to build some 600 new homes on a site in Fagley. And members of the committee weren't happy and wanted the filming stopped. Having been told they couldn't do this, they then demanded that the raw, unedited footage be given to the Council. The councillors were told they could only ask nicely and couldn't demand.

There is a simple and easy solution - pretty cheap these days too - to these councillors harrumph: broadcast the meeting. This isn't difficult to set up and plenty of councils have started to do this - Kirklees, Hampshire, Basingstoke, Wakefield, Croydon, Tameside, Brentwood are all examples. And if you have a record those pesky film-makers have less chance to do their Michael Moore style manipulation and make all us councillors look like baddies.


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