Standing Up for Public Meetings

I think that the Town Council, or at least certain members of the Town Council, need to be reminded that the law states that the meetings of the council, its committees and sub-committees are open to the public and the press.

There are very few, clearly laid down exceptions to this. It’s also the law that members of the public are allowed to record (either audio or video), and broadcast, any meetings which they are allowed to attend. For example, if somebody from, say Clapham, wanted to attend a SMTC meeting and video it, they would have a legal right to do so.

As for standing up: I believe we should all stand up for our rights, and this doesn’t extend to having to stand up when addressing a town council.

Members of Parliament might well stand up when addressing that body, but that’s largely a matter of common sense.

With a large meeting it’s very sensible for the person talking to stand up – purely so that other people can see who’s talking and so that the voice projects better, and nowadays, so that the TV camera can focus on the right person.

People don’t stand up in Devon County Council cabinet meetings nor in the District Council executive meetings.

The important thing is that people can have their say, Public bodies at every level should do their utmost to ensure that this happens – even if they’re uncomfortable with it.

Let’s not forget that on the current South Molton Town Council there’s only one councillor who’s had any votes cast for them – Cllr Tracey Lewis – all the others are there by default.

I don’t disrespect councillors, or what they do – far from it.  I know that it’s a very,very difficult, complex, time consuming job, and, contrary to public opinion, town councillors get paid nothing at all.

But they mustn’t forget why they are there – and that’s to represent the public!