“Misquotes” prompts call to record council meetings

Caistor Town Council discussed on Thursday (June 11, 2105) whether to make audio recordings of their meetings – despite agreeing not to only last month.

Cllr Steve Millson told councillors he had asked for the issue to be put back on the agenda because of “misquotations on social media that are grossly incorrect.”

Throughout the discussion there was no indication as to what the alleged misquotes were, nor why they were supposedly wrong.

Mayor Carol Mackenzie said the move would safeguard the council.

Town Clerk Helen Pitman suggested using a dictaphone to take audio recordings.

But she added that she had asked whether neighbouring councils of a similar size kept audio recordings, and had not found any councils that did.

One councillor asked how audio recordings would change people’s perceptions?

“If there are 14 councillors and a clerk, members might take more than one view,” said Cllr Deborah Barker.

And Cllr Alan Caine, who is used to meetings being recorded through his experiences as a district councillor, said he had been misquoted time and time again. “It does not make a bit of difference,” he said.

Councillors voted overwhelmingly not to make the audio recordings.

* The Citizen would support a move to make audio recordings if they were available to the public and promptly.

But after the meeting, district councillor Owen Bierley said the costs of making and storing the recordings can be prohibitively expensive.

Some of the difficulties in using audio equipment were identified by Kentish Gazette editor Leo Whitlock in a recent article for holdthefrontpage.co.uk website, dated June 2015.

In praising the skills of reporters who use shorthand, he wrote: “It will not matter one iota if the battery died in their dictaphone or smartphone, if background noise drowned out the key quote or if they thought they had pressed record when they had not.”

2 Comments

  1. Jonathan Holt

    I think the Town council should specify the misquotes and which organisations are making them- it would then be interesting to compare the clerk’s abbreviated minutes with misquotes because unless she takes another set of un-official minutes I don’t think she can possibly decide who said what at the time-in addition to minimal recording of minutes all emails are deleted after 3 months by the Clerk- even emails regarding ongoing contentious planning as the “situation has moved on” to quote the Clerk. I run a business on my computer and currently have all emails sent and received going back to 2006 amounting to over 25,000 emails and it doesn’t bother my computer at all………….

    Reply
  2. Chris Carver

    I would hope that one of the essential requirements to be the clerk would be a reasonable shorthand speed and ability. She could then take speedy, accurate notes and be able to produce meaningful minutes of the relevant discussions. The chance to correct misinterpretations arises as the start of the next meeting. If this isn’t sufficient, she should be able to produce the original notes to clarify matters.

    I suspect the Councillors are having a pop at this publication because it is the only one quoting verbatim the proceedings of council meetings and opening them up to scrutiny.

    Reply

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