Interesting to read that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is promoting transparency in local councils by urging them to allow online filming of council discussions.
Bob Neill MP, Local Government Minister has evidently written to councils advising them to allow ‘online broadcasters’ to get the same access to public meetings as journalists do.
This move was started by Margaret Thatcher in the 1960s when she passed the Private Members Bill, Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings Act 1960).
Eric Pickles said:
“Fifty years ago, Margaret Thatcher changed the law to make councils open their meetings to the press and public. This principle of openness needs to be updated for the 21st Century. More and more local news comes from bloggers or citizen journalists telling us what is happening at their local council. Many councils are internet-savvy and stream meetings online, but some don’t seem to have caught up with the times and are refusing to let bloggers or hyper-local news sites in. With local authorities in the process of setting next year’s budget this is more important than ever.
He went onto say “Opening the door to new media costs nothing and will help improve public scrutiny. The greater powers and freedoms that we are giving local councils must be accompanied by stronger local accountability. We are in the digital age and this analogue interpretation of the press access rules is holding back a new wave of local scrutiny, accountability and armchair auditors.”