Sheffield’s Green Party councillors have claimed victory in their campaign to allow the public to record and broadcast meetings of the Full Council. The Council approved proposals to permit recording of it’s formal meetings on September 4th. Green Party councillors previously requested this in a motion to Council in June 2012, but were not supported by the ruling Labour Administration.
Cllr Rob Murphy commented “I’m glad that the Administration has become more open about its public meetings after our campaign. I believe this is the first step in making our Council more open and transparent, but there is a long way to go. We will now be pushing for more openness regarding the Council’s many large outsourcing contracts.”
1 – The original Green motion from 2012 is motion 17 clause (f)
2 – Background information supplied to councillors by officers ahead of the council meeting on September 4th follows :
Subject: Recording of Meetings
I write to alert you to proposals which are to be approved at the Council meeting on 4th September in relation to the Authority’s arrangements for permitting recording of its formal meetings.
The Corporate Members’ Group (which comprises the Leaders, Deputy Leaders and Whips of the political groups) has reviewed the Council’s arrangements for permitting recording of the Authority’s meetings. This review was announced by the Lord Mayor at the July Council meeting and was undertaken in response to public and media enquiries in June with regard to the Council’s policy on this matter, with these enquiries resulting from publicity issued on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government stating that local authorities should allow citizens to report, blog, tweet and film council meetings in England.
The Council’s policy did permit the use of television cameras and recording equipment at the discretion of the Chair of the meeting and suggested that this should generally be permitted provided adequate notice had been given and convenient arrangements can be made. However, conventional practice has been for Chairs to permit recording in the meeting room up to the start of the proceedings, but not during the proceedings unless for specific reasons such as recording presentations, tributes etc.
The Corporate Members’ Group has therefore agreed to move towards a more permissive position, in line with the Secretary of State’s recent guidance and to promote transparency and openness and enhance democratic participation and engagement. The revised position is to openly permit the recording of the proceedings of meetings whilst open to the public, but for any recording to be required to be undertaken under the direction of the Chair.
The Council meeting on Wednesday will therefore be asked to amend Council Procedure Rules to state that –
Mobile telephones, pagers and other such equipment must be switched to silent mode during meetings of the Council and other Bodies so as not to disturb the conduct of the meeting. Photography, video and sound recording of the proceedings of meetings whilst open to the public shall be permitted under the direction of the Chair of the meeting and in accordance with any protocols and guidance issued by the Council’s Monitoring Officer. The Chair has discretion to withdraw or suspend this permission should he or she deem it necessary, for example if the recording is disrupting the conduct of the meeting, or where a member of the public participating in a meeting objects to being recorded. In order to assist the Chair to manage the recording of the meeting, any member of the public wishing to record must inform the Chair and the recording must be clearly visible.
Council Procedure Rules apply to the Council and its Committees, including Scrutiny and Policy Development Committees, Audit Committee, Area Committees (if established), the Standards Committee and Regulatory Committees, and to the Cabinet and its Committees.
In accordance with the new wording in the Council Procedure Rule, and further to the steer given by the Corporate Members’ Group, the Monitoring Officer has now issued an operating protocol in relation to recording of the proceedings of meetings and the publication of recorded material, and this will be published on the Council’s website. A copy is attached to this email for your information. Information on the Council’s arrangements for recording meetings will be made available in venues for relevant meetings and within agendas for relevant meetings, and Chairs will be provided with information and support to assist them to facilitate any recording that may be requested at a meeting.
Should you have any queries or concerns about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact either myself, or Lynne Bird, or, in the case of Chairs, your designated Committee Secretary, and we shall endeavour to assist you.