Councillor's anger after town hall meeting shut down over recording row

Coun Bob Brierley
Coun Bob Brierley

An outspoken opposition councillor is back in the headlines over his use of recording equipment after a meeting was abandoned.

Hindley Green independent representative Coun Bob Brierley has launched a furious attack after a members’ briefing about waste was abandoned.

Around 25 councillors had been receiving an update on the town hall’s strategies for collecting rubbish and recycling for 20 minutes or so when proceedings were brought to a halt.

Chairman Coun Terry Halliwell informed the meeting that Coun Brierley was recording and in a vote those present unanimously decided not to continue and to return for the briefing at another time.

Coun Brierley has reacted with fury, saying he records meetings because of his health issues.

He said: “The council knows I have dyslexia and short-term memory loss. The recording is for my personal benefit because of my disability.

“I’m at the end of my tether about this, it has got ridiculous. If I had switched it off I wouldn’t have got the full information because I wouldn’t have been able to remember.

“Full council meetings are recorded but apparently I’m not allowed to record. I don’t see the difference.

“Nobody was bothered until 20 minutes in and then it kicked off. I think it was because I was asking awkward questions about waste management.”

Despite Coun Brierley’s protests Wigan Council has said there is a difference, with recording permitted at public meetings such as full council but barred at internal events which are not open to residents.

It is not the first time Coun Brierley’s use of a dictaphone or similar gadgets has caused issues.

In 2014 a full council meeting was abandoned and the agenda voted through without discussion after Coun Brierley refused to stop recording, telling Wigan Council leader Lord Peter Smith he was permitted to do so both by law and local authority officers.

Coun Halliwell, who was chairing the recent briefing, said he turned the issue over to the other elected members present when he was made aware of it.

He said: “Coun Brierley didn’t tell anybody he was recording the meeting. I asked the members if they were aware of it and when they said they weren’t I gave the group the options to continue or come back at another time.

“They voted unanimously to shut it down.

“Coun Brierley never made anybody aware he was going to record people’s comments and he should have done that from the beginning. Some people were very upset this was taking place.”

The meeting has yet to be rescheduled.

Coun Brierley has clashed several times with the town hall’s top brass during his career in local politics.

He last week attended Manchester Civic Justice Centre to support a claim by former Bryn independent Steve Jones against the council.