‘Debate, not demonstrate’ call as Hartlepool council agrees to filmed meetings

The Hartlepool Borough Council chamber.
The Hartlepool Borough Council chamber.

Councillors have supported proposals to film council meetings in a bid to be more open and also restore order to the chamber.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief executive Gill Alexander prepared a report on a number of issues around council meetings after a motion was passed in June.

There have been occasions where the standards of the constitution have not necessarily been met

Gill Alexander, council Chief Executive

Members of the authority’s finance and policy committee yesterday supported a recommendation that full council meetings, which take place around once a month, are filmed by council staff and later uploaded to its website unedited.

Ms Alexander said it would help the public to be more engaged as it faces major budget challenges.

It is also hoped the filming will help to reduce bad behaviour among councillors and also from members of the public who attend the meetings.

Ms Alexander said: “There have been occasions where the standards of the constitution have not necessarily been met.”

In future, councillors and members of the public will be requested to stand when the mace is carried in and out of full council meetings.

She added: “What we need the public to understand is this council chamber is a place for debate, not a place for demonstration.”

The council investigated the feasibility of broadcasting all council meetings on the web after receiving a petition from a member of the public.

But a report said it would cost £50,000 for equipment and to adapt meeting rooms up front plus £30,000 a year.

The issue of the timings of council meetings is to be referred to the council’s neighbourhood forums for the public’s opinions.