Council meetings set to be filmed

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St Helens Council’s cabinet are yet to discuss new proposals encouraging local authorities to allow filming of council meetings.

The legal changes - set out by local government minister Eric Pickles MP - will enshrine in law the right for press and public to report, blog, tweet and film meetings.

The regulations will be part of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill that are due to pass through the House of Commons this week.

Mr Pickles said: “An independent local press and robust public scrutiny is essential for a healthy local democracy.

“We have given councils more power, but local people need to be able to hold their councils to account.

“We are taking action against town hall Pravdas which are undermining the independent free press, but I want to do more to help the new cadre of hyper-local journalists and bloggers.”

A recent report by the Tax Payers’ Alliance revealed that a number of councils were keeping their proceedings behind closed doors.

However, a spokesman for St Helens Council said no proposals had yet been presented to the council for them to discuss.

The spokesman added: “At this stage there are no proposals to discuss the issue. Clearly however, the council will act in accordance with legislative requirements if these changes are introduced.”

Councils in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire were identified as keeping their democratic proceedings private.

On those councils, Mr Pickles added: “I asked for councils to open their doors, but some have slammed theirs shut, calling in the police to arrest bloggers and clinging to old-fashioned standing orders.

“My department is standing up for press freedom, helping to unlock the mysteries of local government.”