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Bonkers Blog November 2013

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6 November (Part 2) - Recording council meetings

The proposal to allow the recording of Bexley’s meetings goes before the full council tonight and to be honest I suspected there would be some sort of fudge or double-cross. However when I looked at the Agenda yesterday which begins with the words “Audio/Visual recording of this meeting is not permitted without the prior approval of the Chairman”, Appendix 11(c) on Page 83 seemed reasonable to me. True they retain the right to stop recording, but it is their building and no one knows exactly how things will pan out in practice. Caution is obviously necessary but it looks like a reasonable start, assuming the council passes the proposals put forward by the Constitutional Review Panel.

Among those interested in recording there has been a debate about whether it would be acceptable to record this evening’s meeting but I am always one for playing a straight bat on these things and waiting for the vote was clearly the right thing to do. This view eventually prevailed.

Council chamberElwyn Bryant thought he should check out the legal position with Eric Pickles’ office. It was obvious to him the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has been taking a close interest in the Bexley situation and they said he should be allowed to take photographs at this evening’s meeting. He reminded them of Bexley council’s tendency to call the police. They knew all about that too and made their view on it very clear. Thus encouraged Elwyn phoned Bexley council only to be given the inevitable “No”. He thought that was the end of the matter, he couldn’t use his camera at one more meeting. So what?

Then yesterday the DCLG rang Elwyn. A combination of a strong ethnic accent and Elwyn’s less than perfect hearing made for a difficult conversation but he got the firm impression they were telling him he should photograph this evening’s meeting. In view of the council’s refusal on Monday he decided not to bother but at 9 a.m. this morning a call came from Kevin Fox who organises Bexley council meetings. The mayor, he said, had authorised recording at this evening’s meeting. Certain arrangements were to be put in place but in principal the ban on recording was lifted.

When I was a teenager I made a stereo tape recorder out of plywood, bent aluminium sheet, plus lots of valves and badly soldered wires. It sparked an interest in audio visual recording which has lasted to this day. I shall now have to clamber into the loft to see if there is a microphone up there that could be pressed into use on a hand held recorder.

If I succeed in making a recording do not expect it to be available here. It will be an aide-memoire to complement my inadequate speed writing skills; that’s all. As far as I am concerned, nothing much is likely to change. Maybe the quality of photographs will improve over the one above obtained by a visitor from Oxford.

Have you noticed how Mayor Sharon Massey is now half way through her term of office and has yet to get a bad report on Bonkers? Looks like she’ll get through another month unscathed.


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