Are councillors permitted to record confidential items of a meeting?

0 votes
At recent meeting a councillor was asked to stop recording the meeting when a confidential item was about to be discussed. The public had been asked to leave. (The clerk also had a recorder on and was not asked to turn it off ).  The Cllr refused to turn off the recorder, saying he wished to record the meeting, as usual,  in order to check the draft minutes produced by the clerk, as there were often discrepancies, (which there are).  After asking three times, The Chair closed the meeting, and the item was not discussed.

The topic was to resolve a contract dispute, and it materialised a few days later that the contractor was offered a pay off.  He had been threatening legal action, so there was some urgency to make a decision. Obviously this was what should have been under discussion, and given how important the decision was to make before the summer recess,  should it have been discussed regardless of whether the discussion was being recorded or not?

Q1 Were there grounds to ask the Cllr to stop recording the meeting?

Q2 Is it legal to make a financial decision outside council meetings?

Thanks
asked by (290 points)

2 Answers

0 votes

I can't see any grounds.  The only possible  exceptions could be if the Cllr threatened to put his/her recording in the hands of somebody outside the council or in the public domain. Or possibly if the council has a standing order or policy for who can take the recording of meetings. 

I would say Is illegal to make a financial decision outside council meetings re contracts.  An extraordinary or extraordinary general meeting should be convened for urgent decisions. 

answered by (5.2k points)
We had a similar issue with a councillor recording a confidential item - but in our case the councillor was recording covertly and did cause distruption when the others became aware of it.

The monitoring officer saw nothing wrong with the councillor doing the recording but that was mainly because it was not made public. Personally I would not have allowed the recording.
0 votes
I would say that the council was correct to not allow the councillor to record the closed session.  The Public Bodies (admission to meetings) Act 1960 states the following:

[F3(3A) Where the public are excluded from a meeting of a relevant local government body under subsection (2), the body may also prevent any person from reporting on the meeting using methods— (a) which can be used without that person’s presence at the meeting, and (b) which enable persons not present at the meeting to see or hear the proceedings at the meeting as it takes place or later.]

Hope this helps.
answered by (5.3k points)
I disagree - The Cllr said he wished to record the meeting, as usual,  in order to check the draft minutes produced by the clerk, as "there were often discrepancies",  He didn't indicate that he would seek "to enable persons not present at the meeting to see or hear the proceedings at the meeting".
But the legislation quoted above appears to be motive blind? It says that the decision to prevent recording should be based on whether the method used would allow persons not present at the meeting to hear the proceedings, it does not say that must be the recorders intention.

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