All Council’s will have to allow filming, tweeting and recording at their meetings

On the 6th August, there will be a fundamental way a Council deals with those who wish to film, tweeting and record in all meetings that are open to the public. Until now, only primary authorities like Cornwall Council had to allow – blog HERE – the use of social media and filming at meetings. Cornwall Council has already embraced this – as blogged HERE – and if it suits you, you can film / record any of our public meetings. Cornwall Council also webcasts its Full Council, Cabinet and Strategic Planning meetings.

From the 6th August, the amendment of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 will come into force where all ‘relevant local government bodies’ which includes town and parish council will have to allow filming, the use of social media and recording in all their meetings. The legislation includes any communication method, including the internet, to publish, post or otherwise share the results of the person’s reporting activities. The reporting  and dissemination may take place at the time of the meeting or occur after the meeting. 

The reason for the change is because of the Sec of State, Eric Pickles has the power under the:

Section 40 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 gives the Secretary of State power, by regulations, to make provision for allowing persons to film, photograph or make sound recordings of proceedings of meetings of certain local government bodies; for allowing those not present at meetings to see and hear the proceedings; and for allowing reporting and commentating on the proceedings

I really welcome this and believe Mr Pickles has made the right decision in this matter. It is a shame filming, recording and social media had to be made secondary legislation because council’s would not allow this. There have been many cases of people being ejected and even arrested because they wanted to record a meeting. This should never have happen in the first place, but now thankfully from the 6th August this will not happen again.

Further detail and the actual legal wording can be found HERE and HERE

So here’s a pat on-the-back for Mr Pickles for bring in this sensible and long-overdue change in the Law.

 

Unrestricted Filming at Cornwall Council Meetings

Yesterday, the entire membership of Cornwall Council approved unrestrictive filming – including blogging and tweeting – of council meetings which are open to the public.

Previously, the council did allow filming, but required 48 hours notice. Now there is no requirement for any notice. There is still one rule to filming. That is you must not cause disturbance to the meeting while filming. I think this is only right and I am sure people will respect this rule.

I very much welcome this step forward to make our meetings as open as possible. The myth is Cornwall Council is a closed shop. It is not. In fact it is one of the most open and transparent councils. As we webcast many of our primary meetings; and now allow filming, blogging and tweeting without restriction.

Cornwall Council should be congratulated for this forward thinking approach.

Filming, Tweeting and Blogging at Cabinet Meetings

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.

Twitter, blogging and now Facebook

Being connected and more importantly staying connected with those you represent is one, if not the most important aspects of public life. Social Media now plays a very important part in staying connected.

Two platforms of Social Media, Twitter and Blogging I already have covered, but now I have added another. The ‘new’ platform is Facebook. Though I am not really new to Facebook, as I have had a Facebook account for many years, but in a personal capacity.

My official Councillor page can be found HERE or www.facebook.com/cllrwallis

Feel free to ask questions on the new Facebook page, or the multitude of other ways you can get hold of me.

Report it and My Area

Those clever bods in the website design team at Cornwall Council have excelled themselves with making it easier to contact the council and report something, or find out something like the doctors surgery number, recycling collection and a whole host of other useful information now no more than a few clicks of a mouse.

The first one is Report itwhich I have blogged about before HERE and now has its own sidebar widget on my blog. The second link and new widget is called My Area. Basically you just enter your postcode,  then select your address and for your reward your are supplied with useful information for your area. Like Report it, My Area has its own widget on my blog.

A hearty congratulations should be given to the whole team for this, and the other stuff those goes mostly unnoticed on the councils website.

My Area

Report it

Helston Social Media Surgery

Last week, Cornwall Council held social media surgeries in various locations in Cornwall. It would have been great if it was on a larger scale, but you have to start somewhere. I was pleased Helston Library was selected to host one of these events last Friday.

You never know how many people will turn up, especially as these surgeries were being held in the daytime. At first me, @Donna_Sharpe and @MattBond1 thought no one would turn up as a good 20 minutes had passed without anyone coming in. Like all Geeks, we spent the time talking about our various phones, apps, and other social media related things.

However, it was great when people did indeed turn up and wanted help. The first couple who turned up wanted to learn more about Facebook because they keep hearing  ‘look on our Facebook page’ for more information; and many of their other interests are online. The team were more than happy to show them everything they wanted to know, and how best to access Facebook and various other things.

The last person of the day wanted again to know about Facebook. This time though, they did not have an account, and they were very worried about security and thought everyone would be able to see what they were doing. So the team set up a Facebook account and explained the various safety features and restrictions you can have on social media sites like Facebook.

From the feedback we received I hope Cornwall Council and myself will be able to hold more of these surgeries at different times, as there is a real need by people for helping various online content, especially as more and more government agencies and local government is being placed online.

If anyone would like more help and lives in Porthleven and Helston I would be more than willing to come and answer any questions you have on social media.

A bonus from holding the event in the Library is people then went on to sign out various books on social media, and the three of us (re)joined the Library!

My twitter is: @CllrAWallis

Social Media Surgeries

Cornwall Council is taking part in a national social media campaign between the 24th and 28th September at various locations around Cornwall. Sadly, it is not being held in that many places. But the reason for this is these are ‘testing-the-water’ events. As if successful, they will be held on a more regular basis and more inclusive locations

I feel like I am preaching to the converted, as if you are reading this, you are probably proficient in the use of social media. However, I am sure we all have friends and family who runaway screaming when you mention social media. This might be through choice, but in a lot of cases it is not.

Social media can be a powerful tool, and is becoming an everyday part of life with the likes of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. The Government has recently made it easier for ‘citizen journalist’ to get access to council meetings and report directly from them.  Social media is also a good way to keep people and groups informed. I know I can get an important message out very quickly via social media.

The aim of the surgeries is to introduce people to social media. These will be held in four locations and they are being held at:

  • Monday, September 24, Wadebridge Library 5-7pm
  • Tuesday, September 25, Launceston Library 5-7pm
  • Wednesday, September 26, St Austell Library 5-7pm
  • Friday, September 28, Helston Library, 12-2pm
I shall be in attendance at the Helston Library to help offering help and advice (like pitfalls). There will also be Cornwall Council officers there showing how social media can be used to contact the council.
For those who know what the hell I am talking about in the world of Twitter, there will be a 12-hour Tweetathon on Thursday September 27th in line with a national day where local authorities will be tweeting. The official hashtag is #Ourday Cornwall Council will also  be using #CCDay.
My Twitter is @CllrAWallis
And the poster:

 

 

Getting with the Times: My Smartphone App

Technology tends to move at a blistering place; sometimes quicker than we really like. Take for example the humble mobile phone, from its brick-like beginning to now, ‘the does everything’ smart phone. As a Councillors, I am always looking at new ways for people to know what I am doing, and more importantly getting in contact with me. Phone, email, stopping me in the street are great, but as technology moves so new ways of communication should be embraced. With this in mind, I have now my very own smart phone app.

The company behind it, Democratic Apps has provided an excellent app. The app can keep you up to-day with news from my blog. It has the function of reporting and issue to me directly using the app. It is the reporting of an issue that has really impressed me. As it is not always convenient for people to call, or email. Now, in a few taps of the screen your problem will be directly sent to me.

The beauty of this app it is a web-based app, so it will work on all types of smart phones. Which is far better than having to develop different apps for the different phone operating systems.

To download the app all you need to do is click the link below, or use the QR code to download. The app is free to download too! Just download via the link and use your phone function to save it to your home screen, and the app does the rest! The link address for the app is HERE or the QR code right below

AppQR

This great work has been carried out by Dave O’Byrne who runs Democratic Apps. His website is HERE if you are interested in his services. I will be speaking to Cornwall Council’s IT bods to see if something like this could be implemented for all Councillors, or even departments. The app has great potential, and I look forward to using it.

Cornwall Council and Social Media

Last night I attended the Cornwall Social Media Cafe (CSMC) monthly meeting. This month it was hosted by Cornwall Council at County Hall. The aim of the CSMC is to bring together people from different fields who are interested in social media.

I was asked by Cornwall Council’s communication team if I would like to talk about social media from a councillors view and how it can be used to communicate with people. The communication team also talked about how this form of communication was used corporately.

I have to say since ‘twittergate‘ broke; Cornwall Council has seen the value social media can have in explaining the role of Cornwall Council, and trying to de-mystify what actually goes on at County Hall. It has not always got it right, but it is heading in the right direction.

During the question and answer session on how Cornwall Council, and those elected to it use social media. A point was raised that all meetings should be webcast; maybe not live, but available in an archive. It was felt this would give a better understanding on how the council comes to a decision. It said it would add to the feeling the council was indeed open and transparent.

Many other local authorities has shunned social media, or tried to ban it. I feel this is a mistake as they should embrace it like Cornwall Council have. For example Cornwall Council’s website is listed in the top 4 local authority website in the UK. The webcast is one of the largest watched (live or archived) compared to other authorities. Furthermore, the council also tries to answer as many inquires as possible it receives from the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

Granted there are those out their who think social media is a waste of money, but you cannot knock Cornwall Council for trying to communicate with people using new and innovative ways.  Try following Cornwall Council on Twitter @cornwallcouncil