Council meeting video rumpus

A COUNCIL meeting was halted after residents objected to two men filming proceedings without permission.

Ashfield District Council’s planning committee had to be adjourned after the pair walked into the meeting at Kirkby’s Urban Road offices and set up a video camera.

The men wanted to film a debate about plans for a single-storey extension to a property on Silverhill Lane in Teversal. But it led to committee chairman, Coun Glenys Maxwell (Lab), adjourning the meeting for a short time.

She said: “I take the decision not to object but I must let the public know that this is happening. If we have any people who do not want to be videoed, can you please let me know.”

People sitting in the public gallery questioned what the film would be used for — and officers and councillors told them they should assume it would be available to anyone.

After the meeting had resumed, one of the men with the video camera, who has not been identified, said: “I have come to this room to film a public meeting which is in the public interest.

“These councillors talk among themselves, with no recording whatsoever of what they say. I’m going to record the vote tonight. There’s no law that says I can’t.

“I won’t film any of the public. There is no need to get upset about it.”

However Coun Maxwell said there were “significant members of the public here who are not happy about being filmed”. She asked the men to stop filming for fear it could cause a disturbance.

The two men eventually left the meeting but a video, entitled ‘Ashfield District Council Planning Meeting Goes Crazy Over Me Filming The Meeting’ has since been posted on the YouTube website.

Peter Olko, who is chairman of ACCESS (Annesley Community Committed to Ensuring Sustainable Settlements), was among those who objected to the filming.

He said: “If it must be filmed or taped, then it should be done with the utmost discretion and only with the approval of all those present, especially the speakers.”

It is the second time an Ashfield Council meeting has had to be halted because it was being filmed without permission.

Last December, police were called because a member of the public was filming councillors’ response to why the authority was flying a European Union flag outside its offices.

Earlier this year, councillors unanimously agreed to allow filming in the chamber — but only with prior permission.

Said a council spokesman: “The council has a policy relating to the filming of meetings by the public. The validity of this policy is being challenged by individuals who believe they should have unfettered access to filming.”