Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A fly on the wall

It's too bad that I can't be at Barnet council's General Functions Committee meeting tomorrow night, since it will discuss extending to residents the right to blog, tweet and film from council meetings, a topic close to my heart.

Let's be clear, the council almost certainly wouldn't be discussing this at all if the blogging community and Barnet residents hadn't kicked up a stink at the fact that we had been stopped from filming and tweeting until now.

One new weapon in our armoury was the guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (itself, I suspect, promoted in part by the behaviour of Barnet council).

In fact, we made the council's rule a dead letter by filming and tweeting from the council meeting on 1 March. I understand Lynne Hillan told MetPro Security (where are they now?) shortly before the meeting itself not to stop us from filming (well, that's what I heard).

The choice before the committee tomorrow night is outlined as follows:
If the Committee agrees that the existing position on filming and recording should be re-considered, there are two main options (although there are, of course, variations on these options):
(i) Filming could be permitted by anyone in any Council or committee meeting, subject to it being non-disruptive; or
(ii) Webcasting of Council, Cabinet and other key committee meetings, with the public not permitted to film separately.
(Full paper available here.)

Unfortunately, the membership of the GFC does not include Daniel Seal, one of the Tory councillors for Hampstead Garden Suburb. He has been tweeting his support for the right to blog. But I don't suppose anyone in the inner circles of the council would listen to him anyway.

Garden Suburb residents have been cast into the outer darkness by the council lately: despised by Brian Coleman for their wealth - apparently, employing a nanny precludes you from being annoyed by the CPZ charge increases; and living in the only part of the borough that is clearly and unequivocally going to have its library closed.

On that topic, I'm glad to see that the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association has pledged to oppose the closure of the library.

Anyway, I can't get to the meeting tomorrow night but I'm still interested to see how the debate goes. Now, if we had filming of council meetings...

1 comment:

David Duff said...

"It's too bad that I can't be at Barnet council's General Functions Committee meeting tomorrow night"

You know, I worry about you, Vicki. I really do think you should try and widen your social horizons. Most people would break open a bottle of 'champers' at the thought of not attending Barnet council's General Functions Committee meeting. Of course, as you have come to realise since my very welcome incursion into these distinguished columns, I am a very tolerant, broad-minded chap who is content to allow other people their little vagaries. I mean, I have it very good authority that some people still watch West Ham football club - I know, I know, hard to understand but live and let live, I say.