Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Citizen journalists of Barnet, unite! Council meeting, 1 March

On Monday 14 February an innocuous young man was threatened with expulsion from the public gallery at the Barnet cabinet meeting. His crime? Attempting to make a short film of proceedings on his phone.

How behind the times Barnet council shows itself to be. They act in a draconian manner to stop their own residents (to whom they are accountable) from using a piece of equipment that has become as everyday and routine as the pop-up toaster. Haven't they seen how people in the Middle East and North Africa are using social media to help them win their democracy?

I invite every resident coming to the council meeting at Hendon Town Hall next Tuesday 1 March to come with their cameraphones at the ready. Perhaps Brian Coleman will learn some manners if he knows that what he says will end up on YouTube for all the world to see before the night is out.

Oh, and who is this agreeing with the call for greater openness? This is a statement made today by none other than Eric Pickles, the Conservative Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:
"Many councils are internet-savvy and stream meetings online, but some don't seem to have caught up with the times and are refusing to let bloggers or hyper-local news sites in. With local authorities in the process of setting next year's budget this is more important than ever.

"Opening the door to new media costs nothing and will help improve public scrutiny. The greater powers and freedoms that we are giving local councils must be accompanied by stronger local accountability.

"We are in the digital age and [the] analogue interpretation of the press access rules is holding back a new wave of local scrutiny, accountability and armchair auditors."


Anonymous said...

Isn't it about time that people really got behind @ericpickles?

I think the least that you guys can do is to get Viva Eric Pickles t-shirts made up (Chez Guevara) style, maybe in green (Iran protest colour) for the Council meeting.

You surely can show a bit of camaraderie loyalty to former Marxist-Leninist?

Mrs Angry said...

Fortunately Brian hasn't thought of a way of banning the use of pen, notebook and teeline, so Mrs Angry, citizen journalist to the downtrodden masses of Broken Barnet, has never found any difficulty in reporting from the frontline. But it is high time certain councillors stopped monitoring the public gallery for anyone who wants, in the absence of any council initiative, to film proceedings, tweet etc. Certain councillors are themselves too fond of playing with their blackberries in the middle of meetings: very naughty.

Citizen Barnet said...

DH - yeah, I'm going to fall for that!

The innocuous young man in the post has just reminded me that he wrote to Hillan complaining about the way he was treated - and copied his letter to Eric Pickles.

Given that the Barnet Tory regime is a bit of a national embarassment to the government, I think we can assume that what happened in the cabinet room on 14 Feb had wider reverberations.

Let's see what we can manage on 1 March then! (Mrs A with your pen and reporter's notebook and me with my crappy cameraphone!)

Mrs Angry said...

That's very interesting re the letter to Pickles. And I saw who ordered the people into the public gallery to argue with the gut you mention, and it is not the first occasion I've seen. In fact, I think I saw it happen to Mr Hope once, am I right?
Trying to think how I can combine shorthand and use of camera phone. Come think of it, I can't remember how to use the film function so this may be an academic point ... or I could ask DCMD: he reads instruction booklets.

Moaneybat said...

We already have an arrogant Bunter posterior in Barnet and the GLA let alone get behind another bloated posterior. T-shirts Steadman or Scarfe style more suitable.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Mrs Angry is more familiar with battery operated devices than I am.

Mrs Angry said...

Ah, DCMD, swopping his French letters for les chapeaux Anglais, I see ... you are a naughty boy.

Citizen Barnet said...

At last I'm getting some traffic courtesy of Roger's redirect and all my new readers find is this smutty talk.

Get back to the Barnet Mash, DCMD!

Mrs Angry said...

I apologise for lowering the tone. And I have a new blackberry all primed for its first council outing.(Had to ask daughter to set it up for me, as DCMD wasn't available to ask).