Worcestershire councils welcomes new reporting legislation to make them more open

First published in News by

MEMBERS of the public can now film, record and blog from live council meetings as new legislation rules aim at making them more accountable.

The Openness of Local Government Regulations 2014 aims to end active resistance among some councils for greater openness and Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council

will both be subject to the new legislation.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, leader of the city council, said he welcomes the move.

“We welcome anything that will lead to greater transparency within local government, and in particular I hope this move will encourage more people to engage with local politics.”

Councillor Adrian Hardman, leader of the county council, said the council was already very transparent and open in its democratic process as several of their meetings were already webcast live. The council will be providing appropriate protocol ahead f their next meeting.

Before local government was brought into the 21st century with the new law, it was only members of the press which were allowed to take notes during a council meeting under Margaret Thatcher's 'right to report' law, but now any members of the public can film, record sound, live blog and even tweet from all public meetings, including town, parish, city and county councils, and fire and rescue authorities.

Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, said: "Half a century ago, Margaret Thatcher championed a new law to allow the press to make written reports of council meetings. We have updated her analogue law for a digital age.

"There is now no excuse for any council not to allow these new rights. Parliament has changed the law, to allow a robust and healthy local democracy. This will change the way people see local government, and allow them to view close up the good work that councillors do."

Comments (4)

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6:18pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Worcester Lad says...

It might stop some of the councillors from falling asleep
It might stop some of the councillors from falling asleep Worcester Lad
  • Score: 2

9:17am Thu 7 Aug 14

saucerer says...

This new ruling needs to be extended to include council staff meetings, and not just restricted to councillors. Many decisions towards service provision etc are made my council staff behind closed doors, while secret deals etc are done too which remain a secret. More transparency is required and including members of the public etc to attend such meetings, even basic ones, needs to happen.

In fact I am of the view that as council staff work for the tax payer, all their offices should be open to the public during working hours, allowing the public free access so that they can see what goes on etc, though not necessarily interfering with staff while they work. Perhaps the presence of the public may see them work harder and spend less time reading newspapers, surfing the net and drinking lots of tea and coffee between social chinwags.
This new ruling needs to be extended to include council staff meetings, and not just restricted to councillors. Many decisions towards service provision etc are made my council staff behind closed doors, while secret deals etc are done too which remain a secret. More transparency is required and including members of the public etc to attend such meetings, even basic ones, needs to happen. In fact I am of the view that as council staff work for the tax payer, all their offices should be open to the public during working hours, allowing the public free access so that they can see what goes on etc, though not necessarily interfering with staff while they work. Perhaps the presence of the public may see them work harder and spend less time reading newspapers, surfing the net and drinking lots of tea and coffee between social chinwags. saucerer
  • Score: 2

11:35am Thu 7 Aug 14

Jabbadad says...

There are many committees that interested members of the public can join to attend and have input in a professional manner what goes on and what is being considered it's called CONSULTATION, BUT to expect members of the public access to roam around County Hall, where much of the work which is covered by Data Protection is being carried out by a member of staff is just plain unworkable. And why should staff members have the public looking over their shoulders? Would those who suggest this allow it for themselves while at work.?
And the staff at County Hall although called public servants are not owned by the public they are good , well talented people who in the main do a very good job.
And I or any members of my family have never worked there, but I do get off my Bum to attend meetings there and see the quality and ammount of work they (the staff) do.
There are many committees that interested members of the public can join to attend and have input in a professional manner what goes on and what is being considered it's called CONSULTATION, BUT to expect members of the public access to roam around County Hall, where much of the work which is covered by Data Protection is being carried out by a member of staff is just plain unworkable. And why should staff members have the public looking over their shoulders? Would those who suggest this allow it for themselves while at work.? And the staff at County Hall although called public servants are not owned by the public they are good , well talented people who in the main do a very good job. And I or any members of my family have never worked there, but I do get off my Bum to attend meetings there and see the quality and ammount of work they (the staff) do. Jabbadad
  • Score: -1

11:51am Thu 7 Aug 14

Jabbadad says...

On a good point the permission for recording is a very bold step to take. The County Council Web Cam service for some meetings would be an eye opening for those who don't / aren't able to attend meetings, but can watch the political antics being played out, and of course the recordings of the public meetings are Verbatum so will end the councillors etc saying They didn't say certain things. When It's all on an easilly accessible internet for the public .
Councillors beware.
We need the same facility for the Lords and Parliament so we can challenge some of the rubbish / untruths, (coverd by Parliamentry Privileges), that the Lords and MP's come out with. Then I am sure we would see members of the public also becoming a great deal more actively interested in politics than now.
On a good point the permission for recording is a very bold step to take. The County Council Web Cam service for some meetings would be an eye opening for those who don't / aren't able to attend meetings, but can watch the political antics being played out, and of course the recordings of the public meetings are Verbatum so will end the councillors etc saying They didn't say certain things. When It's all on an easilly accessible internet for the public . Councillors beware. We need the same facility for the Lords and Parliament so we can challenge some of the rubbish / untruths, (coverd by Parliamentry Privileges), that the Lords and MP's come out with. Then I am sure we would see members of the public also becoming a great deal more actively interested in politics than now. Jabbadad
  • Score: 0

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