One of Bexley council’s excuses for not permitting the recording of their meetings
is that certain people are intent on disruption. Another of Bexley’s lies.
The Bexley Times got hold of the response to Mick Barnbrook’s Freedom of Information request about the amount of disruption that had occurred and they questioned Bexley council about there being only two such incidents on record. One was Nick Dowling’s attempt to make an audio recording last June and the other was when John Kerlen (aka Olly Cromwell) poked a lens through the open door into the council chamber two years ago and councillor Linda Bailey took it upon herself to grab hold of him. The council’s press officer implied that was only the tip of the iceberg. “The Freedom of Information request you refer to relates to meetings that have actually been stopped completely. Each time a meeting is stopped, time is wasted for everyone present including other members of the public.”
It will not be lost on readers that the only disruption noted at any Bexley council meeting has been the direct result of the council’s no recording policy. It is councillors, and in particular their leader Teresa O’Neill, who are the primary cause of disruption, not members of the public. None of this is new but as the subject shows no sign of going away and in the pursuit of total transparency, the whole of Bexley council’s FOI response to Mick Barnbrook has been made available.
As councillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) reminds us, Bexley council is to review its protocol on photography on 3rd September and the Agenda is already on line. It doesn’t start well.
It then goes on to discuss spending up to £20,000 a year on web casting meetings. It suggests that a web cast “can be regarded as the official master recording” and as such “it may not be necessary to permit any other form of recording from outside the council.” Other options are mentioned including complying with Eric Pickles’ wishes but with councillors Chris Ball, Colin Campbell, Peter Craske, Ross Downing and Peter Reader being manipulated by chairman Teresa O'Neill there is little cause for optimism. Apart perhaps from Ross Downing I wouldn’t trust any of that lot!
The last time the Panel met was two and a half years ago and they agreed a general clampdown (some later proven to be illegal) on all sorts of democratic activities in the space of 19 minutes. Times have changed but Bexley council has not.
The Agenda may be downloaded here. (PDF)