Today I have taken the bold decision to release a photograph into the public domain, prohibited by the jobsworths and pompous inhabitants of Thanet council, the proceeding description does not apply to all staff and councillors only those opposed to public access but those of us who sometime visit the council chamber might have noticed the offensive restrictions on using cameras and recording devices in the taxpayer funded supposedly democratic arena.
Some of you will know of the hostile attitude by some council officers and councillors at the mere idea of the public recording for posterity the efficiency and adult conduct of public meetings. I myself have on at least three different meetings been so obstructed by officers and staff that it was necessary to write to the Thanet chief executive to complain. The last and most serious event I was forced to leave a public meeting due to an "overzealous" member of staff.
Recently I enquired with a TDC press wallah, having witnessed Thomas Brown of the Gazette, film part of council proceedings as to the criteria, for allowing such practices, a fair bit of waffle ensued about "accredited media" responsibility, it seems the bottom line, is this, they will not allow anyone to record proceedings unless they happen to be part of the traditional cosy establishment, interestingly the first two video's from the council meetings seemed to happily highlight Cllr Worrow's excitable outburst about "hate crime" perpetrators, and Cllr Driver giving a deserved passionate performance, asking about the honesty and conduct of Thanet Council in giving away £3.4 million away to insolvent TransEuropa ferries. The more reasoned videos from the TransEuropa debate wasn't published till some time after something the Gazette could explain.
As we all know in this country our media and press organisations are without reproach, who could question the high standards of the countries key news provider News International or indeed the ethical standards of journalists, just what was all that silly business with Leveson.
Anyhow I have to fess up to the crime of taking an unauthorised photo at a recent council meeting, this was purely accidental, still publishing isn't, I have no doubt that leaders of the council will once again join together as they always do over crisis and controversy like Arlington, TransEuropa, Pleasurama etc. to condemn my actions.
To you and I the photograph shows a foot, a bit of carpet and the creaky uncomfortable seating in the public gallery of the council chamber, still to the Senior Bods such as Cllr Clive Hart, Cllr Bob Bayford and Chief Exec Dr.Sue McGonigal, I can only guess that they see a dangerous pro democracy intent (which is why I included the Chief executive's Dr title since this seems to be used to add gravitas in press releases).
I have made several requests over the last few weeks, admittedly these were by phone to the press office but so far no permission has been given, for me as a responsible blogger with some track record of honest reportage to be allowed the same privilege as the Gazette, to me this shows a clear political bias.
As has been reported elsewhere the Communities Minister Eric Pickles has clearly indicated that councils should allow bloggers access, still it seems that Thanet council as with Pleasurama, Arlington, prefers to do business in the dark away from scrutiny, perhaps for all we know everything is predetermined down the lodge?