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Bonkers Blog March 2011

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22 March - Something shameful to hide

Cameras bannedOn 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 council’s 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 mayor’s decision is that cameras may be taken into the Civic Centre but only on condition they aren’t 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.


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