Councillor faces standards censure for posting council meeting footage on YouTube

Brighton & Hove City Council webcasts many of its meetings and makes the footage available for people to watch again afterwards. Cllr Jason Kitcat (Green) extracted from the footage examples of himself asking questions, put the footage on YouTube and blogged about the questions on his own site.

He only used footage the council has already made available, he didn’t alter the footage and he had a good reason for using his own copy rather than the council’s original (because at the time the council’s way of presenting the footage made it hard for people to go direct to a specific point in the coverage of a long meeting).

YouTube logoAll in all a good example of a councillor using the internet to communicate with the public, perhaps? The story here being that the councillor is up for some sort of award maybe?

No.

Instead Cllr Ted Kemble (Conservative) lodged a standards complaint, saying that Jason Kitcat had failed to treat fellow councillors with respect and that he had breached Brighton and Hove City Council’s copyright. A local standards committee hearing upheld the complaint, and so Jason Kitcat appealed with a further hearing due in the autumn at the Local Governments Standards in England Tribunal. You can read more about the story in the e-government bulletin.

The case is a great illustration of how the standards regime has got horribly out of control – and how right the coalition government is to have announced the abolition of the Standards Board for England. What the case also highlights is how the details of that abolition need to be got right if we’re not simply to be left with a whole series of unwelcome local standards rulings instead.

UPDATE: Jason Kitcat was subsequently cleared.

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This entry was posted in Local government, News and Online politics.
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6 Comments

  • Chris Keating 3rd Sep '10 - 4:39pm

    Council meetings are a load of waffle.

    In Cllr Kitcat’s case, the waffle is layered with cream before being coated in milk chocolate.

    Nevertheless, I wish him well with this insane standards board ruling…

  • Andrew Suffield 3rd Sep '10 - 7:20pm

    Well, that’s stupid.

    Apart from the blinding idiocy (what on earth are they attempting to accomplish), copyright only exists in creative works. Nothing remotely creative has ever happened at a council meeting.

  • Christopher Hawtree 4th Sep '10 - 10:11am

    This piece does not mention that a libDem, Cllr David Watkins, was one of those who imposed this ludicrous sentence upon Clly Kitcat. The LibDems are therefore a piece with the Tories’ aiming of reducing the Greens on the Council by one for six months and being able to push through their wretched policies.

  • John L Oakes The council has a duty to communicate with its residents, and there is no obvious “lack of respect”; so unless there are details we haven’t been given, or Cllr Kitcat is badly represented, it should be pretty easy to overturn this on appeal – at, however, considerable expense to the public.And Cllr Kitcat should be able to reclaim his expenses from the council, if it is finally decided that he did not breach its Code of Conduct.
    But the story does illustrate that LOCALLY-ELECTED Standards Boards are far from being the impartial bodies they are touted as; and that they often operate at the behest of a politically-biased Head of Legal Department.
    Why, one wonders, is Coalition partner Kemble and his Group launching this attack? I am pretty sad to hear that a LibDem councillor was one of the accusers……

  • Terry Gilbert 10th Sep '10 - 10:54pm

    Disgraceful if a Lib Dem is backing up the Tories on this.

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