East Lancs councils welcome new ‘right to report’ move

Harry Catherall

Harry Catherall

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

EAST Lancashire council leaders have welcomed new measures to bring greater transpar- ency to council meetings.

Under new legislation, from this month the press and public are able to film and digitally report from all public meetings of local government bodies.

This ‘right to report’ includes town and parish councils and fire and rescue authorities.

The public, bloggers, hyper-local journalists and the press will be able to film meetings and send tweets, a practice previously disallowed by some councils.

Philip Mousdale, deputy chief at Pendle Council said: “The council has not previously given a general right to the public to film at meetings. Our approach has been to consider any requests on their individual merits. Frankly, such requests have been exceedingly rare.

“We will be taking a report to our next full council meeting on September 25 to make changes to our standing orders to reflect this new right.”

Harry Catherall, chief at Blackburn with Darwen, said: “We want the public to come to our meetings and witness local democracy in action and we have a good track record of supporting and facilitating members of the public, bloggers and journalists.

"It is extremely important that the council is open and transparent and we try to be accommodating as possible to achieve that. We are fully behind the government’s agenda to make it easier for people to see and take part in the democratic process.”

Burnley leader Mark Townsend said: “It’s not a problem for us, we’ve already taken steps in our constitution to allow that about 12 months ago. We’re ahead of the game.

Hyndburn leader Miles Parkinson said: “The council already has the policy for the public to do that. Of course making public meetings accessible to all – when used in the appropriate manner – is a good thing.

A Rossendale Council spokeswoman said: “We’ve put wi-fi in the council chamber and are seeing if the constitution or other policies need further amendments, but we did already have things in place.”

A Ribble Valley spokeswoman added: “We’re looking at the new regulations Ribble Valley operates a committee system and the public have always been welcome to any of our meetings.”

Lancashire County Council leader David Borrow said: “We already broadcast meetings so the public can see what’s being said.

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