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).
All 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?
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.