Glen Innes Severn Council to consider audio recording

Should council meetings be recorded?

Glen Innes Severn Council looks set to decide“yes” – but only to make sure the minutes are accurate and without granting access to the public.

Deputy Mayor Carol Sparks.

Deputy Mayor Carol Sparks.

The recommendation to Thursday’s meeting is for recordings to be made but destroyed within three months. 

One of the worries is that personal, embarrassing information could be disclosed by a councillor or a member of the public in an open meeting, and the possibly actionable libelous allegation then goes out to the wider public.

The reasoning is that someone in an open section of a meeting might make serous false allegations about anybody, either involved with the council or not, and that then becomes a matter of public record and gets disseminated widely, particularly with Facebook and Twitter now so powerful.

The recommended solution is to record discussions, keep the record only for a short time (some councils keep recordings for up to seven years) and have signs at council meetings warning people that recordings are being made.

The recommendation came after a suggestion last month by Deputy Mayor Carol Sparks that there should be live-streaming of meetings – whether as audio only or including video was not clear. That was rejected, with the feeling of the last meeting that it would be difficult legally and costly.