DCC meetings opened to full recording

The Dunedin public will be able to see local body politicians in action ''warts and all'' after city councillors agreed to allow full sound recordings of their meetings.

The public, including media, were previously only allowed take photos, notes and video, but not record sound at council meetings.

But several resolutions passed by councillors yesterday will allow any person who notifies the chairman at the start of a meeting to record, including video with sound, the public parts of full council, public forum and standing committee meetings.

The council will also record the meetings and make a full, unedited copy of recordings of meetings publicly available. This opens the door to possible live webcasting of meetings in the future.

Council governance manager Sandy Graham told councillors the proposal from staff came after requests from members of the public and media and was something the council's communications team was also keen on.

Councillors had mixed reactions to the proposal.

Cr Colin Weatherall expressed concern about comments in the footage being edited out of context, and Cr Richard Thomson asked if a mechanism could be included so there were repercussions for any ''mischievous'' editing.

Ms Graham later said that would be covered by council making the full unedited version publicly available, to enable checks.

Cr Syd Brown said there would need to be a more concerted effort by councillors to make sure staff were informed of any complex queries before meetings, so staff did not resort to not answering questions on the day because they were conscious of being recorded.

Cr Jinty MacTavish noted media were already present at meetings and edited material from them, as could anyone who chose to attend public meetings, so this idea was really no change.

Cr Kate Wilson was worried some people who wanted to make verbal submissions to meetings might be scared off by the idea of being recorded.

Mayor Dave Cull said it would be another step towards making council processes more transparent.

The community had very few means at its disposal to judge performances by its councillors. The only way at the moment was what was published by the media.

''This gives our community a chance to see us warts and all, or virtues and all. I think that is their right, because we are meant to be representing them ... ''All but one of the 14 councillors voted for full recording. Cr Neil Collins said it was a matter for the next council to decide.

Ms Graham said further discussion was needed on whether hearings committee hearings would be open to recording.

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