Friday 25 February 2011

Recording Council Meetings - The Response

Following on from my previous post, here, I have had a reply to my query regarding the recording of Council meetings;
"While the law requires us to allow public access to meetings, it does not require us to allow recording of proceedings by members of the public and our current practice is that it is not permitted, and this is respected by the media who report our proceedings.
I regret that the same principle would need to be applied to your request.
There are many legal and practical considerations which need to be addressed and resolved before a Council can consider going down the route which you are suggesting. The Council is aware however that there is a developing public interest in the use of modern technology at meetings of Councils and other public bodies, and will be reviewing this issue in the light of legislation and government guidance. How that is progressed will be a matter for Council members to decide at a future date."

In other words, no.
I cannot believe that this would also include a bar to tweeting/blogging from the public gallery as I enquired...or does it? (I shall soon find out)

Eric Pickles' office sent this letter (PDF) to all Councils on Wednesday. I assume Wales was not included as local government is supposed to be a devolved matter (that's another story..) Anyhow, the Council's doesn't have a leg to stand on over this. It seems that there should be no bar to members of the public recording meetings by whatever means - there are no real issues over Data Protection as the activity being filmed is open to the public and the decisions being made, particularly with current budget debates, affect the public - even the Information Commissioner sees no conflict with data protection and states that they are 'elected representatives acting in the public sphere'.
The letter concludes;
'In short transparency and openness should be the underlying principle behind everything councils do and in this digital age it is right that we modernise our approach to public access, recognising the contribution to transparency and democratic debate that social media and similar tools can make.'
This chap has clearly never visited Carmarthenshire.

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