THE “openness and transparency” of East Renfrewshire Council has been called into question after a request to record meetings was rejected.

Councillor David Macdonald asked council leaders why a member of the public hadn’t been granted permission to record Cabinet meetings in March and April.

Reading from the minutes of one of the meetings, he said: “The deputy leader intimated that a request had been received for permission to audio record the meeting. Having given consideration to the request, the Cabinet decided that permission be denied.”

Mr Macdonald, who represents Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood as an Independent, added: “Because no reasons are minuted, it seems to go against council policy to encourage openness and transparency and I would appreciate if somebody could establish what the course of action is going forward for other meetings.”

Tory councillor Stewart Miller also questioned the decision.

He said: “Is there a reason for it? We do allow recording at the audit and scrutiny committee. There’s surely got to be a reason for not allowing the public to record.

“I can understand why they didn’t do it if there’s an exempt item but the full thing? I cannot understand that one.”

Council leader and Cabinet chairman Tony Buchanan said all elected members on the committee had agreed audio recording wouldn’t be allowed.

He added: “At the Cabinet meetings, there is more than ample coverage of any discussions that we have.

“The papers are brought forward for ratification, there is the opportunity for audit and scrutiny to call it in and the public may attend if they so choose and hear the information that is being discussed.

“Following one of the decisions that we took not to allow audio recording, the individual who requested it immediately left, so did not show any interest in the work of the Cabinet or the papers that were there for discussion.

“We see no need to allow that at present.”

Councillor Paul O’Kane, who is Cabinet vice-chairman, said a precedent had already been set ahead of the request being made.

He continued: “The council doesn’t formally record in an audio and visual sense. It keeps a minute record of the decisions that are taken under discussion.

“It was decided by councillors that it was appropriate that, as the council itself doesn’t audio record, that wasn’t open to people in the gallery.”

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