Thursday, 25 April 2013

Filming at Council meeting


Michael could you please publish my letter to Eric Pickles MP Local Government Secretary on your Press release website thank you

Ian
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Ian Driver <ianddriver@yahoo.co.uk>
To: "eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk" <eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, 24 April 2013, 10:01
Subject: Filming at Council meetings 

Dear Mr Pickles
 
I am writing to you in my capacity as a Thanet District Councillor to express my concern about my Council's unreasonable resistance to allowing  the filming of its meetings by accredited members of the media and citizen journalists.
 
At the Council meeting on 18th April a local journalist was expelled from the meeting for trying to film the appalling way in which councillors behaved when dealing with a major petition of over a 1,000 signatures. Instead of dealing with the petition, councillors shouted and traded personal insults at each other almost resulting in a fist fight between 2 members. The journalist and I felt that the behaviour was so bad that it must be recorded and published. The journalist was expelled from the meeting. For taking photographs of a meeting of a Council of which I am member, I too was expelled the meeting. I have since published some of these pictures on my blog site ( http://vote4driver.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/fight-fight.html ). I have been advised that some elected  members have now complained to the Council's Standards Board about that fact that I photographed and published evidence of their unacceptable behaviour.
 
Last night at a meeting of Thanet Council's Overview and Scrutiny Panel (of which I am the chairman), I agreed to allow the meeting to be recorded by accredited journalists (including the BBC who were present) and citizen journalists. Members of the Council's ruling  Labour Group challenged my decision  and voted not to allow any filming at all. Sadly the Tory group abstained on this issue.
 
As you probably know, following the gaoling of the Council's former leader Sandy Ezeikiel for misconduct in public office, Thanet Council's reputation for probity and transparency is extremely  poor and most people in the district hold the Council in low esteem.
 
Efforts to restore its reputation by becoming more open and transparent in the reporting of its business through the use of new media and citizen journalism are being resisted by a majority of Councillors. This cannot be right. Indeed Thanet  Cabinet's forthcoming review of Probity and Reputation makes no mention whatsoever of opening up meetings to be filmed by citizens journalists as a means of rehabilitating its tarnished image.
 
I am aware of you comments in favour of allowing the filming of Council meetings by citizen journalists. I am also aware of your colleague Bob Neale's  letter to all Council Leaders and Monitoring Officers encouraging them to allow citizen journalists to record and broadcast video of Council meetings. I can advise you that this letter has never been discussed by Thanet Council or its committees and this letter has never been circulated to Members. This is totally unacceptable.
 
I would be very grateful if you could investigate the situation at Thanet Council and  use your power and influence to persuade this old fashioned, backward looking body to allow local people to hold  councillors to public account by filming and broadcasting them at work in meetings.
 
I am sure that the people of Thanet will welcome your intervention. But perhaps not the councillors.
 
I am seriously considering setting up a petition to force the Council to change its undemocratic rules in relation to filming
 
I look forward to hearing from you.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Councillor Ian Driver
Thanet District Council

30 comments:

  1. Anon 9:11 However it is achieved, whether by Driver or the many others who want TDC changed for a democratic authority, TDC has got to be changed. The serious organised corruption of the past was unbreakable then, but that control has now gone and TDC is being shown up for what it really is. Undemocratic, with elected members on both sides with vested interests and all being manipulated by a management team who are not fit for purpose. If you don't want change, you are in a minority. Perhaps you would explain why. For far too long now TDC has been a total disgrace and a absolute failure.

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  2. As an aside to this, and whilst being in favour of the thrust of it, I assume that the 'local journalist who was expelled on 18 April for trying to film' was Christine Tongue.

    As far as I know, Ms Tongue runs an educational video company, publishes a local blog, and is the driving force behind 'Thanet Watch', which she dubs 'the Private Eye of Thanet'. I am not aware that her journalistic qualifications extend beyond that. For example, is she a member of the NUJ? As someone who is an accredited journalist for the national press and national TV news, including the real Private Eye, I would be intrigued to know what qualifies her to be described as a 'journalist', as opposed to the (perfectly acceptable but not quite as authoratitive) 'citizen journalist'.

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    Replies
    1. Who are you? Would you like to write for Thanet Watch?
      Christine Tongue

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  3. Well said 9:58 a few P45's need handing out to galvanise improvements at TDC. And the worst councillors voted out. Those wishing to film council meetings should do so and simply not leave if asked.

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  4. 11.00 makes a very valid point, I doubt if coucillors would mind being filmed by accredited journalists who were members of the NUJ and so were accountable.

    Allowing just anyone to film who may have a completely biased agenda and possibly willing to edit the filming for mischievous purposes should be avoided at all cost.

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    1. The point is anon 12:07, pictures don't lie or distort the truth like some officers and Members of TDC. The behaviour last Thursday was akin to a pub brawl. If those involved don't like being recorded brawling, the simple answer is to behave. I don't think some of them know how. If TDC was operating professionally, I doubt that Christine would waste her time trying to record them.

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    2. The BBC? How accountable do they have to be for gods sake.

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  5. 12.07

    Pictures don't lie but crafty editing as we all know can!

    TDC need to make sure their recording equipment is up to speed and then load ALL the filming of the meeting so people can watch the whole three hours if they have the inclination to do so.

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    1. Anon 16.38. You surely don't think that the TDC recording failing after Everitt started his tirade or even that it failed, was a fluke.
      Have no fear that the SMT and one member in particular is fully in control. Our Councillors are totally unaware of how they are being manipulated and set against each other in order to avoid the real problem.

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    2. And TDC aren't capable of 'crafty editing'. They just claim that the cameras went wrong. They have been pulling that one for years. Surprisingly the 'old' cameras only don't work when it is convenient for them not to. That is the only reason why they haven't replaced them.

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  6. I personally wouldn't have a problem with someone else recording any meetings, my problem is that by her close affiliation to Cllr Driver Christine Tongue shouldn't be that person. I want impartiality I don't want edited highlights that can be used by the elected Cllr for Northwood ward to be used for his own personal political gain.

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  7. I see that once again the elected Councillor for Northwood ward abandoned his electrorate, the greater public of Ramsgate and the greater still electorate of Thanet by walking out of the committee he was supposed to chair.

    Greatful I don't have to look at his name on ballot.

    Shameful that he feels his OWN PERSONAL crusades are more important that those of the people who ask him to act on THEIR BEHALF.

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  8. Wondering why Michael is now protecting Dtiver aswell, does he REALLY need protecting from his electorate to this degree?

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    1. John your comments have been deleted because thye fall outside of the of the comment terms shown below the comment form.

      “comments that may be construed as offensive and anonymous derogatory comments about real people will be deleted.”

      The real person involved is immaterial, yours were deleted along with derogatory comments about Margaret Thatcher, The Queen and about ten councillors of all poetical parties.

      You may feel that commenting under your real name somehow makes you into something other than an anonymous commentator however this only seems to have identified you as Cllr Drivers internet stalker.

      I would suggest that you consider some other activity, for that alone would be a sad epitaph for someone with such a distinctive writing style.

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    2. That's interesting Michael, as my comments are not anonomous, offensive or derogatory, they merely state obvious facts.

      I feel no need to post under different names, or anonomously, what would be the point. The fact that Driver attracts my comment is merely a product of him making dishonest and misleadind statements which I chose to challenge.

      The fact that Driver cannot defend himself when challenged, and relies on your good self to fight his battles for him, on highly dubious grounds is indeed a sad epitaph on his quickly sinking political career, but one which is highly fitting.

      I expect no better of his like, of you Michael, I expected better, you at least commanded a little respect from me, even if i disagreed with you on a variety of subjects.

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    3. John, this is quite simple really, identity relates to a real person, having a blog stared in feb 2013 a facebook account started in nov 2012 and a possible youtube account all with interests that seem to be geographically centred on Thanet with a leaning towards Margate don’t make you in any sense a real person, anymore that someone called John Smith would be real without some sort of attachment to a real identity it is just a name.

      People like Ian Driver and Christine Tongue have real identities that link to their positions in life, addresses, jobs etc and separate them from all the other people of the same name.

      Now it doesn’t really matter if you agree with people or not, you can’t go beyond a line here with any real people, politicians, writers, filmmakers, road sweepers, local businessmen.

      The same applies to all of them you call any of them - from the MP’s council’s chief executive, the leader of the council, the local mayor at one end of the scale to road sweepers and shop assistants like me at the other end of the scale – call them liars, monkeys etc here and your comment gets deleted.

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    4. Michael, because I have not chosen to pop down and introduce myself, and seek accreditation from you, does not mean I am anonomous, any more that Enid Blyton is anonomous as I've nevere met her. It merely means that I have no real need, nor motivation to seek your's or anyone else's approval for beliefs.

      I live in Thanet, no not in Margate, (god forbid!) and work in Kent not far from Thanet. Do I chose to make my address/details public knowledge, hell no! The thought of having to go to all the trouble of having to slap an occutard who may fancy his/her chances, or having tardtv turn up making a nuisance of themselves, and lowering property values precludes such openness. I regard the internet as akin to having a chat with people in the pub. Would I tell them where I live and work, HIGHLY unlikely, would I ever wish to meet them outside the pub, even less likely.

      You I have met a few times, the vast majority of the other contributers here, with some notable exceptions, I can see no scenario in which I would lower myself to find them in my company.

      FYI as i told you before, I don;t have a youtube account, never have had, and been on FB since 2009, though 2 accounts have been hacked over the years. I choose my friends and aquaintancies carefuly, and just like my house and property, keep my personal details safe from those who can't be trusted.

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    5. John this has nothing to do with knowing me, and everything to do with being known publicly, in this sense you are anonymous and whether you like or not you are not allowed to insult real people here.

      As far as your various internet accounts go of course your anonymity means that you can say what you like, it isn’t possible for you to lie in the sense of “My grandmother is an all in wrestler” so of course I believe everything you say within those parameters.

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  9. Perhaps we should be thankful that Driver is doing the job that the others are too compromised to do themselves and ignore his political posturing.

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  10. I watched the 80 or so minutes of the scrutiny meeting and couldn't believe how Ian Driver thought he could bully everyone else into allowing filming and was so "disgusted" when every other elected member either voted against his proposal or abstained. He then flounced off knowing his friend and supporter Christine was still filming.

    Yes the sooner we get the filming done by genuine accredited journalists the better.

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    Replies
    1. What a shame so many abstained. Can't they actually make a decision for themselves?

      And what on earth was Worrow wearing?

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    2. Something a bit odd here, how can anyone watch 80 minutes of a 10 minute film.

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    3. Michael, 9:27 said that he (or she) watched "80 minutes or so of the scrutiny meeting"; I assume by this that he/she was actually there in person.

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    4. Do you think concillors would behave better if it wasn't me filming them? The part of the meeting I filmed was only 30 minutes maximum, edited down to 10.Happy to show the whole tape to anyone who wants to see it.
      Christine Tongue
      Thanet Watch

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    5. Sadly this was simply another Driver/Tongue stunt. Gets him in the papers, helps pleasurama not at all, and gives Tongue something to daub into her laughable pamphlet. Other than that, it has no value.

      If the point was to film the meeting was to aid democracy, why not stay and film the rest after your master had left Tongue?

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  11. My apologies, I got confused with the two meetings I had watched, of course the scrutiny meeting was only 10 minutes long.

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    1. I only filmed one minute of the April 18th full council meeting. The council is supposed to have filmed all of it but only managed about an hour before the equipment broke down. Ian Driver had said very little up to that point and the people who were losing their tempers seem to have managed to do that without Ian Driver provoking them.

      I wonder if the filming would have been better if an accredited journalist had done it....
      Christine Tongue

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    2. We could have watched Driver's pre planned ejection publicity stunt, him having filmed/taken pictures when the outcome was known no matter who filmed it.

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