Delayed Decision On Recording Of Secret Council Meetings

Council chamber at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Councillors have delayed a decision on whether to make audio recordings of the part of Council meetings where the public are excluded.

They’ll now take legal action before bringing the matter back to the Full Council meeting in December.

At last Tuesday’s Policy and Resources committee, Cllr Richard McCarthy repeated his call for the recordings to be made so that members and officers could refer back to them later.

However, a report from administration officer Sue Pritchard, explained that minutes needed to be brief and highlighted risks about data protection, defamation and copyright.

Mrs Pritchard also explained that the recording would need to be destroyed once the minutes had been approved, in the same way that written notebooks are now. She said they’re handed to the chief technical officer to be burnt in the incinerator.

Cllr Dudley Mumford said that while he agreed there were risks involved with an audio recording, such as illegal use by staff, he still felt one should be taken, at least on a trial basis.

He recalled a recent meeting in public where officers had referred back to the webcast to clarify what was said. He asked why, if it was useful to do it for that meeting, it wasn’t useful for private sessions too.

Acting chief executive, Neville Gardner, said any external agency giving advice to the Council might be extremely cautious about what they said in meetings if they knew a recording was being kept.

He advocated taking legal advice, which was agreed by members. That will be brought back to Full Council in December.


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