Fringe Box



Letter: Why Were Photos Taken of the Public Gallery at a Planning Meeting?

Published on: 22 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2016

emails letterThis open letter, to the monitoring officer at Guildford Borough Council, has been sent in from Dragon reader, Nick Bomford:

Dear Satish Mistry,

Regarding the recent Planning Committee meeting (Wed, Apr 6 2016 at 7 pm) when the subject of discussion was a proposed housing development on Wisley airfield.

I was confused when the Chair, Cllr Moseley, announced that “it is prohibited for members of the public to record the meeting without first having obtained permission.”

Does not the Local Audit and Accountability Act specifically allow the public the right to report open meetings of local government bodies by filming, photographing, or audio recording? Does Cllr Moseley have the power to override this Act?

If so, please could you explain?

We know that meetings are filmed by GBC and are available (edited) on the GBC website, so we have tacitly given our permission for that exercise. My confusion stems from the fact that one man (apparently a GBC staff member) used his mobile phone to take several shots, panoramas or film, of the assembled members of the public.

Are you able to tell me whether or not that data was uploaded to a GBC computer, and if so, by whose authority and to what purpose? Cllr Moseley’s words of prohibition specified “members of the public”, implying a different rule for GBC staff, but shouldn’t that photographer first have gained written permission from those members of the public that he filmed?

I look forward to your response.

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