Monday, January 22, 2007

Council to ban press from taking notes without permission?

According to a document we've received, the Council is planning to curtail democracy further by changing it's Constitution in order to restrict the reporting of proceedings aswell as closing down scrutiny and debate.

The Council wish to make the length of notice it requires for public questions to be extended by two days. It is also proposing to bring in a new rule that will require the press or public to get permission from the Mayor in consultation with the Chief Executive to "record" meetings.

The wording of the proposals seem to suggest that "record" literally means sitting in the room with a notepad, as the document later goes on to talk about having meetings "sound recorded" in order to help with "recording" the meeting.

The implication of this change is that the Council does not believe someone should be allowed to enter a public meeting, make note of what was said, and then repeat it with out first getting permission to do so. We're not quite sure how the meeting can be called "public" in those circumstances.

The Council also plans to restrict the number of questions it can be asked at a meeting, and wants to extend the length of time before a question on the "same substance" can be asked again to "three meetings or greater". In the case of last year that would mean a question asked at Council in May 2006 could not be re-asked until January 2007 (given the cancelled meetings).

Long live scrutiny and democracy!

Update: We've been advised that when the Council says "record" they really only mean with a sound device. We're not sure why they then specifcally tak about "sound recording" as well, but we'll give them the beneift of the doubt.

This does make us wonder though, why the sudden requirement? Has someone been recording the proceedings? It certainly wasn't us, we just use the minutes. There still remains the issue of public and councillor questions.


Blogger Nigel said...

This might be OK if the Council themselves could be trusted to tape council meetings for the official record. However, on two seperate occasions when I have asked for transcripts I have been told the desired section is missing due to technical problems. Not drawing any Watergate-style comparisons, but it is a bit much to now ban others from making an accurate record.

Cllr. Nigel Fletcher

2:05 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home