Latest Public Sector News

06.08.14

Pickles extends ‘right to report’

Local government secretary Eric Pickles has passed a Parliamentary order allowing the press and public to film and digitally report from all public meetings of local government bodies.

The new ‘right to report’ law builds on Margaret Thatcher’s Private Members’ Bill from 1960, which allowed for the written reporting of council meetings by the press.

Following the passage of both primary and secondary legislation, the new law will apply to all public meetings, including town and parish councils and fire and rescue authorities.

It also aims to end ‘active resistance’ amongst some councils to greater openness, with some local authorities in the past having called the police to arrest people who tried to report, tweet or film council meetings.

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.

“Local democracy needs local journalists and bloggers to report and scrutinise the work of their council, and increasingly, people read their news via digital media. The new ‘right to report’ goes hand in hand with our work to stop unfair state competition from municipal newspapers - together defending the independent free press.

“There is now no excuse for any council not to allow these new rights.”

The Openness of Local Government Regulations 2014, which apply to England, give rights to members of the press and public to use modern technology and communication methods such as filming, audio-recording, blogging and tweeting to report the proceedings of the meetings of their councils and other local government bodies; and to see information relating to significant decisions made outside meetings by officers acting under a general or specific delegated power.

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