No pri­vate film­ing to be al­lowed at meet­ings

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By SADIE BECKMAN

Horowhenua District Coun­cil has de­cided its meet­ings, com­mit­tees and brief­ings are not per­mit­ted to be filmed or recorded by its own elected mem­bers or the pub­lic with­out its prior per­mis­sion, al­though ques­tions have been raised around democ­racy and trans­parency as well as how it could pos­si­bly po­lice this.

The move came at Wed­nes­day’s coun­cil meet­ing af­ter a no­tice of mo­tion was tabled by Bernie Wan­den call­ing for the right to record be­ing re­moved from the pub­lic.

The mo­tion was in re­sponse to an an­nounce­ment by fel­low coun­cil­lor Ross Camp­bell at an ear­lier meet­ing he would be wear­ing a per­sonal cam­era to pro­tect his health and safety as he felt threat­ened and bul­lied by an­other coun­cil­lor.

Coun­cil­lors and chief ex­ec­u­tive David Clap­per­ton raised con­cerns at the time that Camp­bell’s pro­posed film­ing, which he said was sug­gested to him by the po­lice, would breach pri­vacy.

Clap­per­ton said more work needed to be done to clar­ify the sit­u­a­tion.

Ross Bran­ni­gan said he was the per­son Camp­bell had a ver­bal al­ter­ca­tion with in the meal room at coun­cil’s cham­bers fol­low­ing a com­mit­tee meet­ing, but that Camp­bell gave as good as he got and he would make no apol­ogy to him.

Camp­bell claimed Bran­ni­gan had threat­ened to take him out­side and “sort him out”, how­ever Bran­ni­gan said this was a “dis­grace­ful” fab­ri­ca­tion.

“Should it have hap­pened? No,” Bran­ni­gan said. “But if two grown-ups can’t have a heated dis­cus­sion . . . the world’s gone mad.”

Bran­ni­gan said he would have been happy if mayor Michael Feyen had in­sti­gated a code of con­duct against both Camp­bell and him­self, but this hadn’t hap­pened and he did not know why.

He felt Camp­bell’s an­nounce­ment about his cam­era at the coun­cil ta­ble was a ges­ture de­signed to drag the coun­cil into the me­dia spot­light.

Camp­bell said he would have pre­ferred to deal with the is­sue away from the coun­cil ta­ble, but that there was nowhere he could take his con­cerns over bul­ly­ing, such as a union or sim­i­lar.

At Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, Wan­den said his no­tice of mo­tion was not in­tended to erode demo­cratic rights, but to pro­tect the rights and pri­vacy of mem­bers of the pub­lic and staff.

“I sup­port the live stream­ing of meet­ings,” he said.

“How­ever, I am con­cerned at peo­ple film­ing staff mem­bers and mem­bers of the pub­lic.”

Mo­tion sec­on­der Neville Gim­blett said the move brought the coun­cil into line with Par­lia­ment’s rules.

Coun­cil­lor Jo Ma­son ex­pressed frus­tra­tion that the whole is­sue was di­vert­ing time and fo­cus away from the busi­ness of coun­cil.

Coun­cil act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Lester said the mo­tion does not af­fect the au­dio-vis­ual record­ing of meet­ings that are pub­licly avail­able on the coun­cil’s web­site.

How­ever, sev­eral mem­bers of the pub­lic who spoke at the meet­ing ex­pressed con­cern that re­strict­ing the pub­lic film­ing and record­ing meet­ings in a pub­lic space such as the coun­cil cham­bers was un­demo­cratic.

Sev­eral walked out in dis­gust when the no­tice of mo­tion passed with a vote of seven to three. Feyen, Camp­bell and Bran­ni­gan voted against the mo­tion.

Coun­cil­lor Bernie Wan­den

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