Agenda item - Use of Mobile Phones, Audio Recording and Filming at Council Meetings

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Agenda item

Use of Mobile Phones, Audio Recording and Filming at Council Meetings

Extract from the proceedings of the Governance Committee meeting held on the 20th October 2011, together with a report of Strategic Director, Resources (copies attached).


31.1         Councillor Littman introduced the report and stated that it outlined the proposed changes to Standing Orders to enable the use of mobile phones and audio devices at various council meetings.  He noted that whilst the change enabled the discreet use of such devices, the person presiding at the meeting still retained the ability to require any devices to be switched off or used outside of the meeting itself.


31.2         Councillor Duncan welcomed the proposed changes and noted that Brighton and Hove was a digital city with a high proportion of people using social media to communicate.  The changes enabled a greater freedom and instant level of communication for Members and officers during meetings, although it was important to retain the chair’s ability to decide that such devices should be turned off if they felt that they affected the nature of the meeting.


31.3         Councillor A. Norman stated that whilst she recognised the importance of social media as a communications mechanism, she was not certain that the use of devices and audio recording was appropriate during meetings.  She had been Mayor and felt that the use of the devices during a meeting was discourteous both the chair and the meeting itself.


31.4         Councillor Simson stated that she agreed with Councillor Norman and felt that it would be better to wait until after a meeting before using mobile devices to communicate decisions etc…She also queried whether the reference on page 211 related to Licensing Committees or should be to Licensing Panels.


31.5          The Monitoring Officer confirmed that there was a typographical error and that changes to Standing Orders as shown on page 215 were correct i.e. the reference was to Licensing Panels and not the Licensing Committees.


31.6         Councillor Oxley stated that he was concerned about the proposed changes and that rather than making piece-meal alterations, a comprehensive review should have been undertaken and a report brought to the council.


31.7         Councillor Peltzer Dunn referred to paragraph 5.2 of the report and asked for clarification in regard to the devices that could be used for audio recording.


31.8         The Monitoring Officer confirmed that audio recording was not restricted to mobile phones but noted that requests would be made to the person presiding at the meeting who held the discretion as to whether or not to allow such recording.


31.9         Councillor Rufus, West and Wakefield made the point that technology had moved on from the time when the use of mobile phones was included in Standing Orders and this needed to be addressed.  The ability to use social media was another way of informing people of what was happening and if people used it discreetly it should not affect the running of a meeting.  Councillor Wakefield noted that children in schools were being encouraged to openly use their mobile phones during classes rather than have them hidden under the table.


31.10    Councillor Bowden noted that at the recent Conservative Party Conference, the Secretary of Health was taking part in a debate and it was being tweeted.  He suggested that this could be something that the council took forward and actually enabled the pubic to tweet on matters that were being discussed and put them on screen in the chamber.


31.11    Councillor Littman noted the comments and stated that he believed the proposed amendments were appropriate and recommended the changes should be implemented.


31.12    The Mayor noted that the report had been moved and put the recommendations to the vote which were carried.


31.13    RESOLVED:


(1)         That the existing rules relating to mobile phones and audio recording of council proceedings be amended as described in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the report; and


(2)         That the amended Council Procedural Rule 31, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report be approved to come into effect immediately after the conclusion of Council meeting on the 20th October 2011 with the following amendment:


31.2(iii)     The person presiding at the meeting may require all mobile phones to be switched off and any audio recording cease at any time if they consider that the use of devices is not conducive to the proper running of the meeting.


Motion to terminate the meeting:


31.14    In accordance with Procedural Rule 17, the Mayor noted that the meeting had been in session for over four hours and she was therefore required to move a closure motion to effectively terminate the meeting.


31.15    The Mayor moved the closure motion and put the matter to the vote which was lost and therefore resulted in the continuation of the meeting.



Supporting documents:


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