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Posted by: John Brace | December 18, 2012

Planning Committee (Wirral Council) bans filming again


Planning Committee bans filming again on 6:5 vote.

Present:
Cllr Bernie Mooney (Chair)
Cllr Eddie Boult
Cllr Stuart Kelly
Cllr Brian Kenny
Cllr Denise Realey
Cllr Joe Walsh
Cllr Paul Hayes
Cllr Steve Foulkes
Cllr David Elderton

Planning Committee started late, due to a discussion between myself and Surjit Tour about whether to film the meeting. He tried to persuade me not to. Needless to say I didn’t agree and stuck to the NUJ Code of Conduct which states “At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed”. The following notice of motion (agreed the evening before) was given as the rationale as to why the Planning Committee meeting of the 18th December 2012 should censor any filming. Personally I believe this breaches my article 10 rights on Freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 10
Freedom of expression
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Despite the notice of motion (below) stating the complete opposite to what was agreed at Planning Committee, councillors refused to even bring up the notice of motion on the screen and read it before voting.

Proposed by Councillor Bill Davies
Seconded by Councillor Moira McLaughlin

Delete everything and replace with the following:

(1) Council notes that the Administration has not banned the public from being able to attend and film at meetings.

(2) The issue of filming is under review. The Acting Director of Law, Human Resources & Asset Management has been asked to look at how a balance can be struck between maintaining openness and transparency and addressing concerns among some members about what safeguards can be put in place on how video recordings might be used.

(3) Council notes that the wider issue of the Council streaming its committee meetings is being considered by the cross-party members Equipment Steering Group.

(4) Council asks for the outcome of the review to be presented to the Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee for detailed consideration.

I discussed this with a Labour councillor after the meeting. He said that one of his councillors had tried to film their grandchildren’s nativity play at a school and been stopped by school staff. This guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office entitled “Data Protection Good Practice Note Taking Photographs in Schools” shows this was incorrect.

The same councillor also stated that if he took a photo of me and put it on a website, he could be accused of bullying under the Members Code of Conduct. I really don’t mind if people take a photo of me though, I’m not as camera shy as the Labour councillors are! He then went on to state they have more important things to think about like the 2013/2014 Budget.

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Responses

  1. I trust you referred all concerned to the letter from Bob Neill MP, sent to all councils some time ago, urging them to permit filming, blogging and greater media freedom to report council meetings.

    Who the hell do these little tinpot dictators think they are?

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  2. [...] time, the occasion was a Planning Committee Meeting.  The vote was carried by 6 votes to [...]

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  3. If I remember correctly the letter from Bob Neill MP was included in the advice note from Surjit Tour (or at least referred to) that started all this.

    I’ll be going through the legislation this afternoon and writing a letter to Wirral Council, but because this has dragged on so long, both sides have rather entrenched views on this matter.

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  4. [...] the discussion Cllr Bernie Mooney referred to the previous Planning Committee and how in her view there was no policy on the filming of [...]

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  5. [...] time, the occasion was a Planning Committee Meeting (link to John Brace’s website).  The vote was carried by 6 votes to [...]

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  6. […] it had been at the meeting itself I would’ve posted the footage online, however yes, it has happened before (18th December 2012) on a close 6:5 vote. Back then Cllr Mooney said it would be “just for this […]

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