Hartlepool Council plans to film its meetings – would you bother watching?

Hartlepool council chamber
Hartlepool council chamber

The business of Hartlepool Borough Council meetings could be opened up to a wider audience as the authority investigates filming proceedings on an official basis.

New Hartlepool Borough Council chief executive Gill Alexander is preparing a report into the feasibility of the authority recording full council meetings, and broadcasting them over the internet.

It follows a motion put forward by council leader Councillor Christopher Aklers-Belcher and supported by Labour councillors Carl Richardson, Rob Cook, Chris Simmons and Marjorie James.

They said it would support open, transparent and effective democracy and make sure council business is carried out with dignity.

But Putting Hartlepool First Councillor David Riddle said there were more important issues facing Hartlepool that require the chief executive’s attention such as child poverty, education, employment and health.

Coun Riddle said: “This is micro-management and trivialises the position of the person employed in arguably the most important job in our town.”

The motion was agreed after Coun David Riddle asked for an amendment to ensure the council follows existing legislation and guidelines.

Legislation has been introduced by the Government to allow filming of meetings and recordings have already appeared on the internet.

He later added: “The public already have a right to film meetings, and I strongly encourage them to continue to do so.

“My view is certain councillors have been shown up and embarrassed themselves on camera in recent months, and the motion in its original form, was an attempt to manage the filming.”

Hartlepool resident Michelle Winship, who regularly videos full council meetings, had also been separately preparing a petition for the council to do so.

She said: “A lot of people were wanting me to do it but obviously, I can’t be at every council meeting. It should be explored and would be great if it happened.”