The Dept of Local Government has released new guidance on peoples ‘rights’ on using social media and filming equipment at executive meetings (Cabinet). This follows on from a blog post from September 2012.
The new guidance can be found HERE. One of the main points are:
The rules require councils to provide reasonable facilities for any member of the public to report on meetings. Councils should thus allow the filming of councillors and officers at meetings that are open to the public. The Data Protection Act does not prohibit such overt filming of public meetings. Councils may reasonably ask for the filming to be undertaken in such a way that it is not disruptive or distracting to the good order and conduct of the meeting. As a courtesy, attendees should be informed at the start of the meeting that it is being filmed; we recommend that those wanting to film liaise with council staff before the start of the meeting.
The new guidance also talks how much public notice must be given if a meeting (Cabinet) is held in private. The guidance says:
Prior to holding a private meeting, your council must have published on its website and at its offices at least 28 clear days notice of its intention to consider a matter in private and the reasons for the private meeting. This is to ensure that members of the public have reasonable opportunity to make representations as to why the proposed private meeting should not be held in private.
At least five clear days before the meeting, your council must confirm its intention to go ahead with the private meeting through another notice on its website and at its offices. This second notice has to include details of any representations received and the council’s response to them.
As for how the 28 days notice will impact on how Cornwall Council carries out its business, I have asked the councils legal department to look into to make sure we are fully compliant. It should be noted, Cornwall Council already has a policy on filiming – which is good – but it might need to be updated due to these new guidelines.
On the whole I fully welcome these ‘new’ guidelines, which will hope make all councils more open and transparent in its day to day business.