Recording council meetings: It’s always good to get another democratic right

So, members of the public can now film and record at all meetings of Leeds City Council.

As the ever reliable Quentin Kean reported on The Leeds Citizen earlier this week, the council has finally relented to allow the filming after Secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles placed the rights of the public to “report, blog, tweet and film” into the Local Audit and Accountability Bill last year.

As Kean writes:

“Just how the Bill will enshrine those rights in practice isn’t clear yet. Draft regulations are expected soon from Pickles’ department. Once they’ve been issued and agreed, the council’s solicitor may have to tweak the detail of the protocol and make any knock-on amendments to the council’s constitution.”

It also follows a local campaign last year by Quentin, Richard Horsman from Leeds Trinity University, Sean Dodson at Leeds Metropolitan University and Dr Julie Firmstone at the University of Leeds to secure those rights in Leeds. I’d also written to council leader Keith Wakefield and chief exec Tom Riordan.

It’s great to have a new democratic right, isn’t it? This is obviously good for democracy, good for interested members of the public, bloggers and press. My argument is that it’s also good for the council to be as open as possible, for more members of the public to be able to see the work of committees in action and see the debates  between (and voting patterns of) the councillors they’ve elected.

It’s a no brainer.

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