The tl:dr – chairs of committees and senior officers of Manchester City Council receive NO training in the rights of citizens to film meetings. If they make claims about filming that mean citizens are misinformed of their rights, there is zero sanction. This is the democracy we live in.
There were two scandals at last month’s Planning Committee meeting of Manchester City Council, but only one of them got any coverage. That’s understandable, given that it involved the approval of a car park next to a school (and induced demand while we are allegedly in a climate emergency).
The second scandal was this: both the chair of the committee (an elected member) and the senior officer (employee) of the Council made a sequence of statements about who could film what when and with permission. This was in response to a member of the planning committee, an experienced Councillor, raising the question of filming.
Watch the whole sorry display here
https://manchester.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/447816, under the fifth item).
It was an awful, demoralising display, even by the standards of this council. For the benefit of any libel lawyers who may have wandered in, I am NOT stating, or even insinuating, that the chair or the officer were knowingly misleading the public. But it is indisputable that they were guilty of ignorance, of not knowing what the Council’s actual policy on filming is.
It is this-
And so I submitted a Freedom of Information about what training chairs and officers receive. And what happens if they give information which is not accurate. Read the answers and weep.
1a) What training do chairs of committees (be they scrutiny, planning, whatever) receive about the actual rules concerning filming of council meetings?
The Council does not hold any information that records the training of the chairs of committees in the rules concerning the filming of meetings. If there has been such training, we have no record of it.
1b) What training do members of the strategic management team receive about the actual rules concerning filming of council meetings?
The Council does not hold any information on the training of the strategic management team in the rules concerning the filming of meetings. If there has been such training, we have no record of it.
2a). What sanctions are in place for chairs who do not inform members of the public about the actual (as opposed to preferred/imagined) rules are about filming.
The Council’s policy on procedures are explained on this page of the website.
2b). What sanctions are in place for members of the strategic management team who do not inform members of the public about the actual (as opposed to preferred/imagined) rules are about filming?
A copy of the Council’s Disciplnary Policy is attached, were it considered to be a matter that required formalor informal disciplany action to apply a sanction.
3) Given that at the Planning Committee meeting on 17th October showed a remarkable ignorance of the actual rules about filming by the Chair of the committee and a member of the strategic management team, has remedial training in the Council’s rules been considered? If so, by who? When and how will it be implemented (so, for example, if an email has been circulated, please provide a copy).
The Council does not hold any information on whether remedial training in the Council’s rules has been considered.
If no remedial training has been considered, are we to infer that the Council is perfectly happy for incorrect information to be circulated and left uncorrected?
This is not a request for information so no response is possible I’m afraid.
4) Will there be a public apology to the members of the public who were given rampantly incorrect information about their rights at the meeting on the 17th October
The Council does not hold any information on future intentions in relation to the matter you are asking about.