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'Council punch up would get viewers tuning in'
PUBLIC council meetings in Wycombe will be filmed in future.
Wycombe District Council has approved filming at its meetings - leading a Liberal Democrat to claim it is motivated by Tories wanting to suppress opposition and debate.
But a senior Conservative said his party, which controls WDC, would relish feisty debate and believes 'a good punch up' will help attract more people to watch.
The idea had been recommended for refusal by the Regulatory & Appeals Committee but was voted through at full council.
Councillor Julia Wassell, Lib Dem, was against, saying: "We have filming at the county council. My concern is that it's inhibiting proper democratic debate.
“I think so much attention is focused now on the press might be watching the webcasts, we've all got to behave ourselves, which is okay up to a point.
“But for those of us who are she came into politics for politics to be told all the time we got to behave ourselves, we've got be polite to each other, there can't be any extended debates, we mustn't upset anyone because it will be filmed, I believe it's having an inhibiting effect on robust opposition to the underlying Conservative majority.
“I think Conservatives want to have these cameras to inhibit debate.”
Instead, she said, the council should encourage more residents to attend meetings in person. She said: “Everything is becoming remote. Why don't we just telecast (ourselves)? We don't have to attend.”
Ex-WDC leader Cllr Roger Colomb, Conservative, replied to her: "I recall we did in fact televise a meeting some years ago. I recall we had the lowest viewing figures ever seen.
"I would have thought that having a good punch-up might actually encourage people to watch it and I'm amazed you're inhibited. On the half of my party I would say I relish we relish it.”
Former leader Cllr Alex Collingwood, Conservative, said: "At the county council and even Parliament they do allow filming. We've got to move into the 21st-century.”
Councillor Mahboob Hussain, Conservative, Cabinet Member for HR, ICT & Customer Services, said: "I think filming is very important and will be welcomed by the public. Openness always strengthens democracy and promotes efficiency.”