Public to be filmed at council meetings

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PEOPLE attending Kingston Council meetings will be filmed in future after some councillors voiced safety concerns in the wake of “disgraceful behaviour” at some meetings last year.

Pointing a CCTV camera at the public gallery section of the council chamber during meetings was suggested at the latest council meeting on 28 May by Cr Georgina Oxley.

Councillors unanimously backed the proposal.

“There have been complaints that people who have attended have not felt safe in our gallery,” Cr Oxley said.

“I think there’s been a number of altercations where people have felt quite threatened in our public gallery.”

The South Ward councillor said she had felt threatened at a meeting last year.

“There was an altercation even with myself where I was threatened by a member of the gallery,” Cr Oxley said.

Cr Tamara Barth said people expected to be filmed going about their day every day anyway.

“Ordinary people operating in society have an expectation that they will be filmed, whether it’s using an ATM, crossing a busy road or going into certain luxury shops and banks,” she said.

“There are probably multiple times a day we’re recording going about our business and that’s fine.”

Cr Tamsin Bearsley said she was comfortable backing the CCTV camera being pointed at the public gallery since the footage would not be publicly viewable or accessible.

Cr Bearsley said “the sound quality is unlikely to capture individual conversations” and only law enforcement agencies would be granted access to footage if necessary.

Cr Geoff Gledhill said no-one had complained to him about feeling threatened but he also supported the filming of the public gallery.

“We are all used to CCTV and being filmed,” he said.

Cr Rosemary West noted there had been heated arguments during debates last year at council meetings about building the final part of the cycling and walking Bay Trail from Mentone to Mordialloc.

“There was some disgraceful behaviour in the gallery last year,” she said.

Cr West also noted councillors’ conduct had improved since council started streaming video of meetings live online with archived footage of public meetings available to view on council’s website.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 6 June 2018

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