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Film row council to end virtual meetings

Created on 10/09/2020 @ 12:50
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Councillors in Abermule have decided to abandon video conferencing for their meetings, instead returning to the community centre where they will meet in person.

It followed the controversial filming of part of the community council's meeting last month which was posted on a Facebook page.

This week Abermule with Llandyssil community councillors voted unanimously for October's meeting to take place at Abermule Community Centre.

Council chairman Cllr Jane Rees said: “The date will be 7 October, how do we all feel?

“Are we going to try?”

Powys county councillor for Dolforwyn which includes Abermule, Cllr Gareth Pugh, said: “100 per cent community centre.”

Cllr Gwyneth Jones, added “After what’s happened I don’t want to know about Zoom.”

Cllr Rees added: “Hopefully if we can book it now we can have the hall, the capacity is 37, and we should be able to social distance.”

Cllr Pugh added that risk assessments would be needed.

He added the numbers of people who wish to view proceedings could be affected by the the size of the room.

“We may have to limit the public to five people, if it’s the main hall they would have to spread out, said Cllr Pugh.

Part of the reason for going back to a face to face meeting is the fear that remote attendance meetings may be recorded and put online to be seen on social media sites.

The issue comes from the August meeting.

Council clerk, Gwilym Rippon, asked campaign group Abermule Communities Together to take down a video clip of part of the meeting that they had uploaded and published on their Facebook page.

They were told that they had breached the council’s standing orders by not asking for permission to record the meeting.

During a section of the meeting that allows for public speakers to take part councillors and their partners had condemned ACT’s actions.

Mark Pearce of ACT defended the campaign group’s actions by pointing out that the Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Meetings) (Wales) Regulations 2020 supersedes council standing orders.

Mr Rippon insisted that ACT had breached legislation and said: “I don’t want you looking in to my home or my home put on any sites, nobody should be recording it.”

Cllr Pugh, said: “Bottom line is we don’t want it viewed all over Facebook and Gwilym can mute the lot of you.”

The legislation in Wales does differ to England at town and community council level.

The law is based on Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 updated in the The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.

In England people attending meetings can film, take photographs or make an audio recording of the proceedings.

They can also report or provide commentary from proceedings live, such as on social media, to allow others not present, to see or listen to it.

In Wales this is “encouraged” but not backed up in law.

According to the Welsh Government this is to allow for a “flexibility of approach.”
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