Wirral Council bans public from filming Pensions Committee on “health and safety” grounds.
Bizarrely at the start of the Pension Committee all members of the public were asked to leave by the Chair (who seemed to conveniently forget that the public have a legal right to be there).
What followed was twenty minutes of discussion as to whether to allow filming at the meeting. Quite exactly what took place during that twenty minutes, I can only report based on the snippets heard as Cllr Harry Smith’s voice reverberated through the closed-door as he told the Committee how “upsetting” he found filming. Getting into his stride he used one of his favourite words “political” not just once but multiple times and said it should be banned because I was a member of a political party (untrue). He said he had no issue with anyone else filming who was “non-political” but then tried to say I am a member of the Liberal Democrats (which I’m not), then contradicting himself in the same sentence by referring to me as an independent. As Peter Cook put it once, “You may choose if you wish to believe a transparent tissue of odious lies, that streamed on and on ….. that is entirely a matter for you.”
When it was pointed out by another councillor that this was irrelevant to the issue of filming the meeting, Cllr Harry Smith just looked even more irate, seemingly unused to any councillor (or in fact anybody) having the temerity to tell him he was being irrelevant.
When the public returned Cllr Ann McLachlan read out a recommendation that at least from where I was sitting couldn’t be heard. Another councillor then tabled an amendment to “current Committee meeting” as it was subject to a review. Cllr Adrian Jones asked him to repeat what he’d said as he hadn’t heard it. He repeated it, Cllr George Davies shouted “current” at Cllr Adrian Jones followed by the Chair saying “at the moment”.
Despite separate votes being required for the amendment and resolution only one vote was taken, 8:5 on the amended resolution.
The Chair, Cllr Patricia Glasman then said, “So the resolution is carried, OK, so ladies and gentlemen, Mr and Mrs Brace, you may not film this meeting tonight on the basis that your equipment has not been…, it does actually say that you would have to have a health and safety agreement to use your equipment and that that’s because of errm a review, which is currently Council is looking into the issue of filming.”
John Brace, “Would it be ok if I filmed without the tripod, is that the issue?”
Chair, Cllr Patricia Glasman, “Errm, well the tripod is one of the issues, but no, we’ve had a resolution, asking you not to film the meeting.”
John Brace, “Can I have a copy of the resolution if possible?”