Swansea, filming, photography and councillors’ privacy

Tonight I received a reply from Swansea council regarding filming and photography at council meetings.  It would seem that a councillor has already fallen foul of their policy of taking photographs at meetings, where he was forced to remove photos he had taken down from his Facebook page.

This isn’t something unusual with our local authorities.  Neither is the standing order requiring permission form the chairperson to take photographs or film at council meetings.  However, after asking, and gaining permission to take photographsother Swansea councillors objected to this claiming that it would be an invasion of their PRIVACY!!!

Below is the relevant part from the minutes of the meeting where this was discussed (31/3/11)


The Leader of the Main Opposition Political Group stated that Councillor R Speht had breached Council protocol and had taken photographs at a Council meeting and had published them onto his Facebook account. He asked Councillor R Speht to remove the images and to apologise for his actions.

Councillor R Speht stated that the images had now been removed and offered a full apology to Council for his actions. He also sought permission from the Chair of Council for him to be allowed to take photographs at this Council Meeting.

The Chair of Council allowed the request.

(Note: A large number of Councillors objected to this and stated that they wished to maintain their right to privacy and that no image taken by Councillor R Speht should be published without those Councillors in the picture giving their consent.)

Surely standing, and getting elected isn’t the best idea if you want to protect your own privacy!  These people claim public money in expenses and yet are quite content in blocking transparency in their meetings!


3 thoughts on “Swansea, filming, photography and councillors’ privacy”

  1. As you say, there seems to be a theme developing here, with opposition to filming council meetings coming from councillors who want to protect their privacy….in public meetings! The elderly councillor who complained in Carmarthen and triggered the arrest of Jacqui Thompson compared councillors with children, saying that you just as you cannot photograph children without permission, so you shouldn’t be able to film councillors in public meetings. The same councillor is a member of the council cabinet with a huge range of responsibilities, including youth services and public health. And she takes home around £30,000 a year in allowances on top of her expenses and other perks.

    This tells us a lot about the culture which exists in local democracy. Far too many of our councillors believe that they have a right to make decisions which affect all of our lives and preside over billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in private with very little scrutiny and free from criticism.

  2. I am a Member of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA), where I chair the Audit and Scrutiny Committee. I have proposed the following Motion to be debated at the Authority Meeting this Friday 1st July:

    That the Authority is committed to the principles of Citizen-Centred Governance, and public service values such as the Nolan Principles of openness and accountability, and therefore confirms that the public are welcome to record all Authority Meetings that are open to the public, provided that such recording does not disrupt the proceedings of the Meeting.

    I will let you know the result.

    1. Thank you Richard. This is a very progressive motion which should be the norm in all local authorities and National Parks. I hope you’re successful with this. I certainly will look forward to hearing how this goes.

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