A new government guide has been published online for local people explaining how they can film and report their local council and cabinet meetings. It is called 'Your council's cabinet – going to its meetings, seeing how it works: A guide for local people'.
The new how-to guide gives practical information for the public to attend meetings of a council’s executive and how to obtain council documents. The government has changed the law to allow citizens to report, blog, tweet and film council meetings in England. It also outlines the assorted rights that taxpayers have to access council papers and documents.
The new guidance explicitly states that councillors and council officers can be filmed at council meetings, and corrects misconceptions that Data Protection or Health & Safety legislation might prohibit this.
Lancashire County Council already provides webcasts of its meetings of full council and cabinet on its website at http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/council/meetings/ and we hope it will not be long before Lancaster City Council follows suit. Currently Lancaster City Council minutes record the decisions taken, but the discussions that lead up to them are rarely documented.
The new rules do not apply to Wales, as they have not been introduced by the Welsh Government which has devolved responsibility.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said: “Councillors shouldn’t be shy about the public seeing the good work they do in championing local communities and local interests."