23 February government told all councils that Twitter, YouTube, blogs and the like
were all part of a modern democracy and to that end guidance was given that councils should
allow public meetings to be recorded. Within a week that enlightened message had panicked Bexley
council into printing leaflets and posters banning all forms of recording at
meetings. Following the threats of arrest issued to
photographers on 9th March council officials let it be known that recording
might be authorised on application to the mayor. On various dates from 11th March through to the
15th a number of letters seeking permission to use cameras were sent to the
mayor. On the same day one of our MPs wrote to the relevant Under Secretary of
State drawing his attention to Bexley councils blatant disregard of his letter of the
23rd February. Today all but one of the people I know of who applied for
permission to use cameras at public meetings were refused permission by the
mayor. The exception is myself who has received no response at all.
My interpretation of the mayors decision is that cameras may be taken into the Civic Centre but only on condition they arent used. Bexley council is going to great lengths to clamp down on transparency and given what they need to hide from public gaze I suppose their reaction is totally understandable.