It seems an awful long time ago now but there was a time when one of Bexley
Council’s defences against exposure of its secrecy, dishonesty and occasion law
breaking was to place reporting restrictions on its public meetings. Definitely
no recording beyond a shorthand pad and absolutely no cameras allowed.
All that changed when Eric Pickles came along as Communities Secretary and demanded that Council’s get with the modern digital age. Bexley Council saw the writing was on the wall and convened their Constitutional Review Committee in September 2013 to debate and preempt Eric’s wishes.
I sat alongside the News Shopper’s reporter while a variety of views were aired.
Council Leader Teresa O’Neill didn’t think webcasting would be much used although seemed not to be averse to the idea in principle.
The since departed Deputy Leader was also wholly behind the idea except that the anticipated “£20,000 a year soon adds up”.
Councillor Peter Reader was against 3rd party recording (which is what brings you the Council meeting reports on Bonkers). Councillor Alan Downing backed him to the hilt.
Councillor Peter Craske was scathing about the usefulness of webcasting but he was not against it and urged its implementation.
The Deputy Leader then slightly switched tack and suggested webcasting should be live only with no playback facilities. He was concerned that someone might mischievously take a copy and edit it. Councillor Reader said he was worried about the same thing.
Councillors Don and Sharon Massey were both absolutely against 3rd party recording and anything else that might allow “mischievous editing”.
In total, five Councillors were against 3rd party recording but they lost out against the Deputy Leader and Councillor Craske’s formal proposal that it should be allowed. In the event the subsequent law demanded it.
Since then Bonkers has occasionally published audio extracts of sections of Council meetings but never altered anything. I leave that to other people, like for example Bexley’s Conservatives.
They have several times Tweeted an extract from a Council meeting which is the most blatant bit of news manipulation that our Council has got up to in a very long time. A repeating loop of the introduction to a much longer comment. How can the crooked Tories say that Bexley Labour was in favour of the closure of Bexleyheath’s police station when they wrote so many letters to various authorities demanding it be kept open?
It is satisfying to note that no one has ‘Liked’ Bexley Tories’ most recent attempt to deceive the public.
Labour’s letter to the Home Secretary.
Labour’s letter to the Deputy Head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing (MOPAC) with attachments.
Labour welcomes the police station’s reprieve.