Thursday, 31 October 2013

Recording Council Meetings

The government has announced that it will be creating a new law that will allow residents, bloggers and journalists to report, blog, tweet and film council meetings in England. 

This follows previous attempts by the Department for Communities and Local Government to force councils to be more transparent, after a string of councils have continued to prevent individuals from recording council meetings on health and safety and legal grounds. 

We have history locally here; within the last month the ruling Conservative Group refused a member of the public to record the proceedings of an Overview & Scrutiny meeting on Thursday 3rd October (See Point 436) on the £4.4m spend of taxpayers money on the Rochester Airport. This type of casual disregard for the public is all to common place.

Public access to meetings is a key part of holding local councils and public bodies to account and it’s wholly wrong for people not being able to record or film in public meetings for spurious legal reasons. 

Whether through Freedom of Information law, filming council meetings or publishing data, transparency is a critical check on those in power and an essential part of defending our liberties.

If Tory Councillors in our area wont move on an issue of common sense we need laws to protect the public interest.

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