Monday, 1 September 2014

Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulation 2014

from BATPC.

The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 came into effect in August 2014. This piece of legislation has amended relevant parts of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 to increase the rights of members of the press and public to film, audio-record, take photographs, and use social media of any kind such as tweeting and blogging, and posting on Facebook and YouTube to report the proceedings of all council meetings that are open to the public.
Unlike before, as far as parish and town councils are concerned, no prior permission is required as such to carry out this activity, but any person wishing to film or audio-record a public meeting is advised to let the council know their intention so that the necessary arrangements can be made. There has always been an obligation for a council to make arrangements for the press to make and file reports; the new rules underline the importance of accommodating reporting by members of the public too. So the emphasis has changed from councils having the choice of whether or not their meetings were filmed to the new position where councils have an obligation to provide reasonable facilities for members of the public to report on council meetings. To ensure minimum disruption to meetings councils may consider agreeing a simple protocol for members of the public wishing to exercise these rights, which might include publication of wi-fi codes and guidance on whether electronic equipment may be plugged into sockets in the meeting room.

DCLG has re-issued its publication Open and accountable local government – A guide for the press and public on attending and reporting meetings of local government. Part 4 of the guide is entitled Access to meetings and documents of parish and town councils and sets out in detail the increased rights of members of the public.

The Chairman has procedural authority in a meeting and the new rules do not prevent the Chairman from excluding any person from a meeting as necessary in order to maintain order prevent genuine disruption to a meeting.

This affects local government bodies in England. See gov.uk 
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