Pickles urges council to open 'digital doors' to meetings
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has issued a plain English guide explaining how members of the public can not only attend council cabinet meetings, but also report them online using social media and film them.
Under new nationwide regulations introduced last year – designed to introduce greater transparency into meetings of a council's executive, committees and sub-committees – authorities must provide reasonable facilities allowing any member of the public to report, the guide states.
Councils should also permit the filming of councillors and officers at meetings that are open to members of the public, and the Data Protection Act does not prevent such open filming of public meetings, it continues.
However, councils can ask for filming to be undertaken in an unobtrusive and non-disruptive manner, and members of the public wishing to film are asked to liaise with council staff before proceedings begin.
The guide states the new rules permit citizen journalists – including bloggers, tweeters, Facebook and YouTube users – to use social media to report on meetings.
It also sets out circumstances under which council meetings could be held in private, and how records of executive decisions should be made available.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: 'I want to stand up for the rights of journalists and taxpayers to scrutinise and challenge decisions of the state. Data protection rules or health and safety should not be used to suppress reporting or a healthy dose of criticism.
'Modern technology has created a new cadre of bloggers and hyper-local journalists, and councils should open their digital doors and not cling to analogue interpretations of council rules,' Mr Pickles added.
'Councillors shouldn’t be shy about the public seeing the good work they do in championing local communities and local interests.'
I knew I could goad JS into debate. Note that he couldn't justify his original comment and so changed the subject.Gerry Dominey, Added: Monday, 17 June 2013 10:35 PM
In my experience, having worked in both camps, I have encountered just as many "sick, lame & lazy" people in Local Govt as I did working for firms such as Repsol & HSBC. But they are generally the exception, not the rule. Also, it is very easy to hide things in any set of accounts; that is why we knew nothing about the banks' bad lending practices until it was too late back in 2008. Mr Smith is entitled to his point of view, but lets keep personal insults out of the debate please everyone.Gary Woodhall, District Council Officer, Added: Monday, 17 June 2013 03:33 PM
Mr Smith's (Sark - ultra Right) contributions are valuable and re-assuring in that the critics of local government have to resort to prejudice and misinformation to construct their material. Of course the FoI does not apply to the private sector where waste and inefficiency can also be found and is paid for by customers who are universally powerless. Stevenage BC is not without its faults but I would always prefer to deal with them than to contact the T mobiles and BT's of this world.Patrick Newman, ex local government, Stevenage, Added: Monday, 17 June 2013 12:32 PM
Good for you Mr Woodhall Council insider & apologist. It took an FOI for the local Council to admit how much money they were wasting on discretionary overtime. It took another for them to admit how many temporary workers were covering for the sick, lame & lazy. Their accounts are an are art form, hiding the waste & corruption, in an obliteration of accounts. As for the fool Dominey he never has a point to make, in fact what is the point of him? He is that shallow you would not get your feet wet.J Smith, Added: Saturday, 15 June 2013 06:39 PM
Don't bother trying to engage JS in a debate. He is too much of a coward and doesn't say anything he could defend. He just drops one and leaves. I wouldn't want to follow him in a lift.Gerry Dominey, Added: Friday, 14 June 2013 05:13 PM
Oh 'Mr Smith'! My council has been webcasting its meetings now for over 6 years, and we are 1 of approx 200 across the country who do so with our partic service provider; no doubt there's more with other service providers. If you want to know what Councils spend their money on, then simply access their Statutory Statement of Accounts, which has to be published each year by 30-Sep. This will also list the salaries earned by the Directors & Chief Exec, so no need to use FOI!Gary Woodhall, District Council Officer, Added: Friday, 14 June 2013 04:55 PM
Is dear old Piffle unaware that many council webcast their meetings and make available an archive of previous meeting. He clearly has got nothing to do having already delivered more cuts to LG funding to Osborne.Patrick Newman, ex local government, Stevenage, Added: Friday, 14 June 2013 04:51 PM
Cannot see this happening, many people would be appalled at the disrespect and goings on in the chamber. Many Councils will block this as they do not want people to have choice, they are driving overt political agendas that often make no sense. It took FOI to allow us to see how they were spending OUR money. Just cut it all down to a minimum size & it becomes clear what they are focused onJ Smith, Added: Friday, 14 June 2013 03:24 PM
This should be applauded. The more transparency in the democratic process the better. I also look forward to Cameron opening his doors to government cabinet meetings, if, for nothing else, to see what a complete and utter buffoon Eric really is.R Owen, Added: Friday, 14 June 2013 02:37 PM
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