Matters requiring approval were agreed apart from minute 26 ((Cabinet – 23/6/11) Financial Out-Turn 2010/11), which would be dealt with separately. Matters for noting were agreed.
The first question to Cllr Foulkes was from myself and is below.
The press and the public (except the petitioner) were not admitted to the Budget Council meeting until part way through the third item. Many had turned up to hear the petition about the care home closures. Both myself and my wife have hearing problems and found it hard to follow the meeting due to the disturbances. When the meeting was adjourned, the public gallery was cleared. The public were sent to Committee Room 1 where speeches could not be heard (for example Cllr Green’s or Cllr Foulkes’) over the speakers and someone was smoking. Many members of the public went home.
During the adjournment my wife and I spoke to Bill Norman and were told that members of the public would be readmitted to the public gallery after those present to create a disturbance had left. One of my local councillors spoke on this issue.
Cllr Green is quoted in the Wirral Globe of the 25th February as stating “Technology now means that people can blog, film or broadcast using their phone or hi-definition video camera. I want people to have as much information as they want about their council, whether they are sitting in the public gallery at the town hall or sitting at home on their laptop.”
It was clearly not possible for any member of the public to film using their phone or video camera as they weren’t allowed in the same room! Wirral Council has a legal requirement to “afford reasonable facilities for taking their report” of those from the local press, news agencies or recording sound or video. I have discussed what happened with fellow NUJ colleagues. Can you provide a written response regarding Wirral Council’s current policy in this area which will help at future meetings?