Wednesday, 21 July 2010
'Crackpot' Brighton Council to suspend councillor - for posting footage of council meetings on the web
I meant to blog about this last week, but this really is a journalists' dream yarn: a story that seems to mature, rather than diminsh, with age.
Brighton Council held its first ever standards board panel hearing last week, and it decided to suspend Green Councillor Jason Kitcat for the heinous crime of... wait for it... drawing attention to public council meetings!
Yes, you read it right. After a 21-day period for him to decide whether or not to appeal the decision, Cllr Kitcat will be suspended as a councillor for up to six months, or until he apologises to Tory Geoffrey Theobald for posing a clip of him addressing a city council meeting on the video search engine YouTube.
The move will, of course, leave Regency residents a councillor down, and the Green Group without one of it's finest speakers and value-for-money firebrands.
More importantly, it will give the Tories (who lodged the initial complaint) a working majority with which to foist public service cuts and hikes in charges on those living in the city.
That the decision was taken, effectively, by two councillors, one of whom admitted not having viewed the clip in question (Jeane Lepper), and another (David Watkins) who appeared to be asleep for some of the hearing, just shows how open to political interference is our fragile local democracy.
That the council can over-ride voters' wishes so easily, inappropriately using a standards and complaints system when the ballot box didn't give them the result they sought, is nothing short of a scandal.
If you're interested, here's the clip in question. It shows Tory Councillor Geoffrey Theobald speaking at a council meeting last year.
I have used the footage from the Argus report into the whole fiasco, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe from a similar complaint being made against me for telling the tale!