A NEW law has been introduced which will allow journalists and members of the public to film, Tweet and blog from town hall meetings.
Local government secretary Eric Pickles has signed a parliamentary order allowing ‘digital reporting’ from all public meetings of local government bodies.
Following the passage of the legislation through both the House of Commons and Lords, the move opens council’s doors to the wider public.
The new law aims to end what is seen as active resistance by some councils to greater openness.
It has been known in the past for some councils to call for police to arrest people who tried to film meetings, although there is no suggestion this has happened in St Helens.
In a statement Pickle’s department it said that this new law builds on Margaret Thatcher’s Private members Bill in 1960 which allowed for the written reporting of council meetings by the press.
The new rules will apply to all public meetings, including town and parish councils and fire and rescue authorities.
Pickles said: “Half a century ago Margaret Thatcher championed a new law to allow the press to make written reports of council meetings. We have updated her analogue law for a digital age.
“Local democracy needs local journalists and bloggers to report and scrutinise the work of their council and increasingly people read their news via digital media.
“The new right to report goes hand in hand with our work to stop unfair state competition from municipal newspapers together defending the independent free press.
“There is now no excuse for any council not to allow these new rights. Parliament has changed the law to allow a robust and healthy local democracy. This will change the way people see local government and allow them to view close up the good work that councillors do.”