No private filming to be allowed at meetings
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