The meeting moved onto consideration of item 4 Use of recording media at meetings (which had previously been discussed at the last Standards Committee meeting).
Cllr Blakeley said that this had arisen because a councillor had taken a photo of another councillor and then reproduced it in a leaflet. He said the report “wasn’t what was asked for” was a “waste of officer time” that should “go into the bin”. He said that they would “not close down this Council to members of the public” and that the “issue he had raised had not been dealt with”. Cllr Williams stated that no further action was needed or required. Cllr Jones said he had no strong views and agreed that Wirral Council should be open to the public. He was also concerned at the amount of officer time used.
Cllr Williams said it was a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” and that there were “unfortunate aspects” that were “totally unnecessary”. Officer time had been spent unnecessarily on this. Cllr Blakeley called on elected members to behave appropriately.
It was agreed that no further action be taken.
John Brace said “As someone who writes on this blog, on other websites and in print about decisions made by politicians at public meetings at Wallasey Town Hall, this report if agreed would’ve meant any journalist or citizen reporting on meetings would’ve had to agree not to be critical of councillors, hand over all their material (video, tape or other recordings) and ask for permission to report many days in advance. If they hadn’t complied with these draconian restrictions they would’ve been expelled from the meeting. I am glad these illiberal restrictions on freedom of speech and the press have not been agreed.”