Friday, 25 February 2011

Our right to film and tweet

Eric Pickles' announcement in favour of residents being allowed (!) to use their social media devices to record council meetings - filming, tweeting and what have you - is accompanied by official guidance to councils. (Thanks to Dan Hope for drawing my attention to this.)

The letter is available here.

Dan will say that this shows the Tory government is committed to transparency. I suspect they are just bowing to the inevitable - you cannot hold back the tide of technological advance, and only look stupid if you try. This way, they get a bit of credit out of it.

There might be an undercurrent to this, that the Tories nationally continue to be embarassed by Barnet council (and other 'bad' Tory councils). I know that Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, was informed about residents in Barnet being stopped from filming at last week's cabinet meeting.

As we know, rights are only active if you exercise them. Let's test this newly ceded right to film and tweet at the council meeting next Tuesday, 1 March. There will be a lobby against cuts from 6pm, outside Hendon Town Hall, and then residents can (I hope) go inside to watch the council meeting, which starts at 7pm.

I am printing off copies of the DCLG guidance to give to residents going into the meeting. If we do nothing else on Tuesday night, at least we can wave this letter in one hand and our cameraphones in the other at Brian Coleman while shouting 'smile for the camera' - obviously, that is only one suggestion for a slogan.

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