Government promises regulations to compel councils to allow filming at their public meetings
Cllr David Elderton shows photos of pavement parking problems to the politicians on Wirral Council’s Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee: An example of the kind of public meeting that the new regulations will cover
Following up on my earlier blog post calling for consultation with those actually doing filming of local government meetings on new regulations, I’ve received a response from one of the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP’s spads (special policy advisers).
I made it clear that I’d publish any reply I received. Apart from the news though that the Local Audit and Accountability Bill has since received Royal Assent (which means parts of it are now law and it’s referred to as the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014) the letter doesn’t say much more than has already been stated in public on this matter. I’ve changed the @ in my email address to [at] to try to fool bots that collect email addresses to spam them.
Mr. John Brace
John.brace [at] gmail.com
Our ref: ER74/00629/74
30 January 2014
Dear Mr. Brace,
Section 40 of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill
Thank you for your email of 23 December to the Secretary of State about the provisions in section 40 of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, which relate to access to local government meetings and information.
I am pleased to inform you that the Bill has now become law as it received Royal Assent today. This means that the Secretary of State has power to make regulations any time after March that may allow local people including citizen journalists to attend public meetings of the local government bodies listed under section 40(6) of the Act and report the proceedings by using various communication methods such as filming, tweeting and blogging. This is a significant change in favour of openness and transparency, as, once secondary legislation is made, councils and other local bodies will be compelled to allow the public to film or tweet at their public meeting.
On your point about consultation, although the Local Government Association and the National Association of Local Councils were mentioned during the debate, no decision has been made on all those who will be consulted. However your point about consulting the people the proposed will affect will be considered when the decision is made.
Also, your points about the circumstances in which persons may not carry out activities such as filming at councils’ meetings and the extension of provisions on offences have been noted. They will be considered when developing the regulations.
Democracy and Local Governance
Department for Communities and Local Government
3/J1 Eland House
Tel 030 3444 0000
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