At SKDC Cabinet at Stamford Town Hall last week I was given a dressing-down by the Council Leader, Cllr Matthew Lee (Con), for a perceived lack of manners because I took this photo without asking permission.
Here is the text of an e-mail I have sent to various Committee Chairs in response…
“Dear George, Matthew and Robert,
In 1960, as a new backbencher, Margaret Thatcher MP successfully introduced a Private Members’ Bill which became the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960; this Act allowed the written reporting of council meetings.
In 2013, Conservative Minister Eric Pickles MP stated “Modern technology has created a new cadre of bloggers and hyper-local journalists, and councils should open their digital doors and not cling to analogue interpretations of council rules. Councillors shouldn’t be shy about the public seeing the good work they do in championing local communities and local interests.”. He then introduced the Openness of Local Government Regulations 2014.
At SKDC Cabinet last Thursday 1st November, Matthew appeared offended when I took a photo of the proceedings from the public gallery without asking his explicit personal permission and commented publicly on what he perceived as my lack of manners.
In order to prevent further offence, please be aware that I intend to continue to exercise my legal right to take photographs of public meetings and, if I wish, make films and sound recordings of the meetings I attend.
The LGA guidance on the role of a councillor states “As well as being an advocate for your local residents…, you will need to keep them informed about the issues that affect them”. I have decided to undertake this community engagement role using words and pictures.
Kind regards, “