Thursday, 7 July 2011

Recording Public Meetings - Here's what WCC have to say...

For the last few months, I've been asking Warwickshire County Council if broadcasting public meetings is allowed. All I have to show for my efforts if this statement from WCC Communications:
We have allowed the media to record in the council chamber before, to an agreed procedure, and this has worked very well.  This is the first time a member of the public has asked to record live in the chamber and we are looking at a process for this too eg we need to ensure that people in the chamber are aware that they are being recorded and why they are being recorded.
Shire Hall has public WiFi which means any device like a smartphone or a laptop can connect to the internet. Councillors are expected to have a laptop open during meetings (to save on paper docs). My first discussion with WCC was back in February 2011 - little has happened since then. Lots of talk, no real decision and definitely no action. 

The law (as it stands) seems to say, it's up to each local authority to make up it's own mind. So if you turn up, start recording, then get asked to stop - you could get arrested. This happened in Carmarthenshire, Wales on 10 June 2011, read that bloggers blog: Carmarthenplanning.   

Being brutally honest, I'm made to feel like I'm the only person asking WCC about recording meetings - perhaps I am? In my view, WCC Communications are saying there is no demand for it. Perhaps they're right. And if they are, someone had better tell the Houses of Parliament, Birmingham City Council and Coventry City Council - as they all have broadcast systems in place.

For some background: Read about Eric Pickles MP  Citizen journalists and bloggers should be let in to public council meetings which includes a brief history of how the press and the public were first allowed into these meetings when Margaret Thatcher changed the law 50 years ago. Further Links: Recording Public Meetings - Help me investigate guideHave a view, leave a comment in the normal way.

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