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Open council meetings to bloggers, urges Eric Pickles

Tim Montgomerie

Pickles Eric Pickles and Bob Neill have issued guidance to local authorities, urging them to allow citizen journalists and bloggers to have full access to public council meetings. Mr Pickles commented:

“Fifty years ago, Margaret Thatcher changed the law to make councils open their meetings to the press and public. This principle of openness needs to be updated for the 21st Century. More and more local news comes from bloggers or citizen journalists telling us what is happening at their local council.

“Many councils are internet-savvy and stream meetings online, but some don’t seem to have caught up with the times and are refusing to let bloggers or hyper-local news sites in. With local authorities in the process of setting next year’s budget this is more important than ever.

“Opening the door to new media costs nothing and will help improve public scrutiny. The greater powers and freedoms that we are giving local councils must be accompanied by stronger local accountability.

“We are in the digital age and this analogue interpretation of the press access rules is holding back a new wave of local scrutiny, accountability and armchair auditors.”

As traditional local media declines, new media will be an increasingly important way of holding local councils to account.

See BBC report.


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