Just a quick post to publish a press release sent by the Tower Hamlets Labour group regarding the filming of council meetings.
They express sympathy with John Wright who was quickly surrounded by the council’s media blackout guards as he tried to film nine days ago. Anyone interested in this issue should watch the Sunday Politics show on BBC1 this weekend; the London edition has done a piece on featuring John.
In Labour’s press release, we start to see John Biggs formulate his line of attack on Lutfur for next year’s election. It seems he will tackle all those issues highlighted on this blog regarding mayoral excess, self-aggrandisement, accountability and transparency.
Here are John’s comments:
“Openness is fundamental to democracy. By attempting to hide away and refusing to answer residents’ questions any Mayor brings his office into disrepute.
“If elected my administration would tear down the wall of secrecy around the Mayor’s office and, as much as possible, make sure that transparency permeates everything we do – this includes having the decency and respect to actually answer residents’ questions at Council meetings, which the current Mayor refuses to do.”
Here’s the rest of the Labour press release in full:
Following an impassioned protest by long-term resident and campaigner John Wright at last week’s Council meeting, Labour councillors have reiterated their support for the live streaming of Council meetings and called on the Mayor to drop his opposition to openness and transparency in the Council chamber.
The councillors pointed out that they had previously proposed that all Council meetings were live streamed stating in their 2012 Budget motion that “the Town Hall is inaccessible to many residents and in order to increase transparency the council should live stream council meetings.”
Labour argued for investment in live streaming facilities for the Council Chamber and other Executive meetings in 2012 but this was specifically blocked by the Mayor who refused to accept the amendment to the budget.
Whilst the councillors recognised that the Speaker had little choice but to follow officer advice at last week’s meeting, they have called on Council officers to ensure that a recorded or live stream of the meeting is in place by the next Council meeting in September.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said: “John Wright was entirely right when he said that as councillors we should be transparent and accountable to those who elected us.
“All residents have the right to hear what their elected representatives think about issues affecting the borough, not just those who are able to make it to the Town Hall.
“Labour Group fully support the opening up of Council meetings and have previously tried to introduce a live streaming system in the Town Hall but this was blocked by the Mayor. With the issue rightly back in the spotlight we are calling on the Mayor to drop his opposition and to introduce a live streaming system in time for the next Council meeting.
“With the technology widely available I can’t see any reason why democratically elected politicians would want to hide away from the public. The Mayor is always the first to jump for a photo call, maybe with cameras in the room he will finally have the decency to answer residents and councillors’ questions himself.”