North-East councils allow meetings to be filmed

Councils  in the region have agreed to allow the public to film their meetings after the Government ordered local authorities to improve access to voters.

A survey by The Northern Echo revealed that councils across the North-East and North Yorkshire have approved the filming of committee meetings.

Members of the public are also usually allowed to post updates on meetings on social networking sites from council chambers.

Earlier this year, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published a guide for people explaining how they could attend and report on their local council meetings.

The guidance explicitly stated that councils should permit the public to film council meetings.

Despite councils elsewhere in the country still refusing to allow filming, local authorities in this region appear to be complying with the guide.

Several councils have allowed filming for several months while others are currently in the process of changing their procedures to comply with the Government guidance.

Durham County Council agreed in July on a protocol for members of the public wishing to record meetings.

These regulations came into force on August 6.

Although it did not have a specific policy on the issue, Darlington Borough Council said it also allowed its meetings to be filmed.

 Hartlepool Council has allowed filming since January.

Its guidance on the issue states: “The council is committed to being open and transparent in the way it conducts its decision making.

“Filming, recording and photography at council meetings will therefore be allowed subject to certain restrictions and conditions.”

A draft protocol regarding this issue will be considered by Stockton Council’s cabinet on September 4 and by full council on September 17.

Sunderland City Council also allows its meetings to be videoed.

Dozens of meetings open to the public are held every year and the city council has always welcomed people to them,” said leader councillor Paul Watson.

Several councils noted that filming was allowed, but the chair of the meeting must be notified in advance.

Authorities also asked for filming to be done overtly, rather than done in secret, and not in a way that was disruptive.

Source – Northern Echo,  20 Aug 2014

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