Glen Innes Severn Council has decided to have its meetings recorded – but only in order to make sure the minutes are accurate. The public will not be allowed to listen to the recording.
The decision at Thursday’s meeting was for recordings to be made but destroyed within three months.
The debate and decision came after a suggestion last month by Deputy Mayor Carol Sparks that there should be live-streaming of meetings.
That was rejected, with the general feeling that it would be costly and present legal difficulties.
Instead, Glen Innes council decided to record its discussions, but to keep the record no longer than three months (though some councils keep recordings for up to seven years). The recording would be used to make accurate minutes but not for public use.
The decision was also to have signs at council meetings warning people that recordings were being made.
Recording council meetings is fraught with legal issues which different councils overcome in different ways.
One of the worries is that personal and or embarrassing information could be disclosed by a councillor or a member of the public in an open meeting, and incorrect or defamatory statements would then be broadcast or published in public view, for the community to hear.
It had been argued previously that council would then be liable for broadcasting the libelous statements.
A second argument against recording which has been put elsewhere is that recording council members in debate would stifle discussion.
If each councillor knew that every issue in open debates was going to preserved, the real discussion would take place behind closed doors before the meeting.