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Website overturns ban to film council meetings

A hyperlocal news website has been successful in overturning a ban on the filming of council meetings.

Wrexham.com has published what it believes to be the first ever video of a Wrexham Council meeting following several rejected requests in recent years.

The website’s previous pleas to record authority debates had all been turned down by successive council chairmen but finally a request was granted to film an Executive Board meeting.

The video footage includes the meeting’s start, part of the debate and a vote at the end.

Wrexham's council meeting is filmed for the first time

Wrexham.com co-owner Rob Taylor says that persistence has paid off and he hopes the video sets a precedent so further meetings can be filmed in the future.

“We emailed the chairman asking if we can film the meeting in a way that will not disturb the business of the meeting itself,” he told the website.

“Around an hour before the meeting we received a voicemail to say that the chairman ‘had no problem’ with us filming.

“Coun Steve Wilson,of Rhosddu, representing the Grosvenor Ward, was the forward-thinking, groundbreaking chairman who was first to say ‘yes’.

“After the meeting we did briefly say thanks, plus pointed out his decision was a ‘historic first’, his response was “Oh God!”.”

The meeting itself was to discuss a possible revisiting of the decision to close a local leisure centre, one that has provoked great debate locally and highlights cuts that are being made across Wrexham.

Video footage also includes a man being removed from the public gallery after an argument began over him not being able to hear properly.

The website’s editorial staff only filmed part of the meeting as they had not brought extra battery capacity – on the assumption that the filming request would once again be rejected.

“We have been trying for a while to get permission to video in meetings, aside from the basic principle of openness I do think people are interested in what goes on in meeting rooms,” added Rob.

“It is great to have a video record aside from purely text based as not only can it be referenced in the future there can be no arguments about who said what.

“This is a first for Wrexham Council, however it is one councillor exercising his power as a chairman rather than a wider policy change. Hopefully that will follow shortly.

“The council has had grants allocated to enable streaming of meetings, however this has not been placed live as of yet but is forthcoming.

“Hopefully in the meantime more meetings can be videoed by press, media, hyperlocals and the public with the chairs of meetings obliging the requests.”

7 comments

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  • March 5, 2014 at 10:13 am
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    I hope I’m not alone in thinking that one of the very last things I want to watch is a tedious council meeting. It’s bad enough reading reports from them. Unless a fight breaks out of course…

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  • March 5, 2014 at 11:05 am
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    I’m with Tog.

    Council’s should live stream meetings but I have no idea who would want to watch a video of a meeting.

    Interesting that it tends to be bloggers and website only publishers pushing this agenda and not newspapers.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm
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    As someone who has sat through tax-setting meetings (oops I almost said rates then) and felt guilty for bailing out six hours later at 1.30am, I can believe that no-one except the councillors, eager to see their own grandstanding of a public gallery occupied only by a Mr Angry with a Tesco bag of documents, would want to watch them.

    But, and I might have missed this – how is the question of privilege covered here?

    Now, and excuse the blue sky thinking, how about a trained, experienced professional reporter covering the meeting and then writing a balanced, fair and accurate report of the meeting contemporaneously which could appear in a paper or on the web?

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  • March 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm
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    From a videographer’s perspective – having the subjects with their backs to the audience is not exactly conducive to easy viewing!

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  • March 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm
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    They could have used a tripod, looks like the camera is balanced on a chair

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  • March 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm
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    Desker – I’m sure there is an audience for this, so why not cater for them? That’s the beauty of the Internet.

    Newspapers are obviously limited by pagination, and it wouldn’t be cost effective enough to cater for everyone.

    I applaud Wrexham.com – should NWN Media be worried by them?

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  • March 29, 2014 at 7:58 am
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    Great news.

    I have asked Stapleford Town Council if meetings can be recorded as well. It is on the agenda for discussion in Friday 4th April.

    All Councils will soon have to allow filming of there meetings and I personally think here in Stapleford we should take the initiative and do it ourselves before told to do so by central government.

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