Labour councillor bans filming at public meeting to decide whether to licence a taxi that’s over 10 years old
Last Thursday there was a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee. Part of this meeting considered an item deferred from a Licensing Panel the week before.
The report on that item titled HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLE LICENCE APPLICATION – LTI TXII REGISTRATION NUMBER WX03 FPE can be read by following this link.
The application was for a hackney carriage vehicle that is 12 years old.
In August 2014, new regulations came into force that prevent councils stopping filming at public meetings.
Below is a transcript of what happened at the Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee meeting on the 25th March 2015. It shows that Wirral Council still thinks it has the power to stop filming at public meetings.
Derek Cummins is a union representative in the UNITE union. Margaret O’Donnell works for Wirral Council.
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Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee (Wirral Council) 25th March 2015
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): The next item, the last item is… Margaret? Do you want to come forward sir?
CLLR TOM ANDERSON: Is this exempt?
CLLR JOHN SALTER: Are we exempted?
CLLR STEVE NIBLOCK: Can we ask for legal clarification about whether or not this item should be exempt because it might be to do with personal or financial circumstances with regard to this application and I’d prefer that we should consider whether it was exempt?
LEGAL ADVISOR TO COMMITTEE: I think we need to clarify whether or not there’s an objection first from the individual before we determine whether or not a decision needs to be made in that respect.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Are you objecting sir?
TAXI DRIVER: Well, yeah sorry, are you talking about my finance?
DEREK CUMMINS: He didn’t quite understand. Yeah, if it’s possible.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): If you’ll just come forward.
TAXI DRIVER: Sorry.
MARGARET O’DONNELL: Just stay there.
CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yeah, just, just keep, yeah sorry, so you don’t, you’re not identified at the present time.
DEREK CUMMINS: Yeah, just to be confident it’s that disagreement on the internet, I don’t want for, for the, could we just sort of err stop filming this side? Well I would suggest it.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: Yes, he said stop filming.
UNKNOWN COUNCILLOR: Stop filming.
CLLR JOHN SALTER: So do it under 12A!
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): You don’t want to be filmed or recorded?
TAXI DRIVER: I’m ok, it’s just err on the finance.
CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yeah.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): There’s finance involved?
CLLRS STEVE NIBLOCK AND CLLRS JOHN SALTER: Yeah.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Right you cannot be filmed because finances are going to be involved.
JOHN BRACE: Sorry did he say he was ok with being filmed but we’re going to be excluded anyway?
DEREK CUMMINS: Yeah, he did.
JOHN BRACE: In a bit yeah? That’s fine, but they’ve got to agree the exclusion first.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): I can’t, I can’t hear from up here, would someone, would someone?
MARGARET O’DONNELL: Can I assist? Firstly, err Derek are you representing the applicant?
DEREK CUMMINS: He didn’t come to me at all, it’s just he doesn’t quite understand what the agenda is.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: We’re concerned about you being filmed and disclosing personal information.
DEREK CUMMINS: That goes on the internet.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: That could very well end up on the internet
OTHER COUNCILLOR: Yeah.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: and on Youtube.
DEREK CUMMINS: So you’d rather have that handled?
TAXI DRIVER: No, yeah. Yeah.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: We’re trying to protect your interests so you’re alright.
TAXI DRIVER: Thank you.
DEREK CUMMINS: So there’s a thing called 7A so we’re excluded, everyone’s excluded, except you.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: So would you be happier if we just said no filming?
TAXI DRIVER: Please.
CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yes.
TAXI DRIVER: Please.
CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yes Chair.
JOHN BRACE: If they’re excluding the public then it doesn’t matter.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Sorry, it’s not an exempt item. The person can stay but they don’t film.
JOHN BRACE: I’m getting confused now. Sorry are you excluding members of the public or not?
CLLR BILL DAVIES (and other councillors): No, no, no, no.
CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: But you can’t film.
JOHN BRACE: But the reason….
CLLR BILL DAVIES: He’s an individual, if he’s got human rights like everybody else. He doesn’t want to be filmed, he doesn’t want to be filmed.
JOHN BRACE: I was just going to point out that although we had this discussion a lot longer at Standards
CLLR DAVID ELDERTON: Please take it down and take it out.
JOHN BRACE: Sorry can I finish what I’m saying? Err, I thought you were about to say you were going to exclude the members of the press and public and he was going to stay and you were just going to decide that, but now you’re saying you’re going to decide, if you’re going to decide this when the press and public are going to be here then the regulations say that any bit of the meeting that’s public can be filmed but obviously if we were excluded then we can’t film it.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Well the gentleman there does not want to be filmed.
JOHN BRACE: Yeah but I can film the other side of the room?
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): That’s what he’s saying. I think that’s quite clear! Some of us don’t want to be filmed. At the end of the day, if it ends up on the internet or Youtube this committee and the officers and something goes wrong will be responsible. It won’t be you, it will be us and this man has said, do you want that recorded. Do you want to be filmed or recorded?
TAXI DRIVER: No.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): That’s fine. You can stay but you don’t film or record. I have made it quite clear because the gentleman, if the gentleman wants to be filmed, no problem. He doesn’t.
JOHN BRACE: OK.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): OK.
CLLR DAVID ELDERTON: It is the Chair’s discretion.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Yep. OK.
CLLR JOHN SALTER: Will you switch it off?
JOHN BRACE: At the Standards Committee it was said if you’re going make a decision that filming is not allowed, then you record that in the minutes with the reasons.
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Yeah, I will do that.
JOHN BRACE: OK, could you give..
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): but we’re not at the Standards Committee, we’re at the Licensing Committee.
JOHN BRACE: Yeah, I know, but just
CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): but you must realise that there’s certain times when individuals have private, personal or financial and they do not want their business spread elsewhere.
JOHN BRACE: I’ll just say I’d like that recorded in the minutes and if that’s the case then I’ll stop filming because I want to challenge that anyway under the regulations so that’s my position.
Once the camera was switched off and the lens cover was shut, councillors went back on what they’d said and excluded the press and public from the rest of the meeting anyway!
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