Police called to Seaford council meeting when resident refuses to stop filming

Policemen were called to a meeting of Seaford Town Council when a member of the public refused to stop filming the proceedings.

Seaford resident Brian Read told the meeting he had the right under statute to film at the council meeting.

However the council said its Standing Orders prohibited filming without prior consent and after some investigation by the council, it said at this stage there was only a bill, not a law about filming at council meetings.

The police were called and asked to speak to Mr Read, 55, of Blatchington Road, outside the meeting, but he refused to leave the council chamber.

After about half an hour the town council decided to close the meeting, which was becoming increasingly rowdy, on the advice of the police.

On the meeting’s agenda was the proposed budget for 2014-15, a feasibility study into building a water sports and leisure facility on the Salts Recreation Ground in Seaford and communications about the lease of the Martello Tower to Seaford Museum.

Mr Read said he had wanted to film the meeting because he had heard it was likely to be a controversial one.

He said: “I heard it was going to be a contentious meeting, so I justed wanted to have some video minutes.”

Two police officers were dispatched to help resolve the situation.

In a statement after the meeting, the town council said: “The council meeting was adjourned as councillors were unable to proceed when a member of the public refused to comply with the council’s current rules on filming.

“Although the council appreciates that Eric Pickles MP has made recent announcements regarding filming, there has yet to be a change in the law.

“The council is governed by Standing Orders, which are the procedural rules under which meetings are conducted.”

Under Seaford Town Council Standing Order 1N it says: “Photographing, recording, broadcasting, or transmitting the proceeding of a meeting by any means is not permitted without the council’s prior consent.”

The spokesperson for the town council continued: “Prior consent was not formally requested and every attempt was made to continue the meeting within the bounds of governing rules, however Standing order 34a prevents this rule being suspended by resolution immediately.

“The council could change their rules for the future to allow filming, however to do this there is a procedure to follow which cannot be done until after the adjourned meeting is completed.”

Seaford Town Clerk Sam Shippen has today received a formal request from cllr Barry Burfield to include a motion for a process to consider enabling filming and recording in the future.

This will be placed into the agenda for the next full council meeting on April 10, 2014.

The earliest date that the adjourned meeting can be reinstated is Thursday January 23, but the council said there was a Community Services Committee scheduled for this date.

The meeting will be reconvened at the earliest convenient date afterwards.