Following on from our report exposing the councils in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who ban the public recording, blogging, and tweeting at council meetings, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that these rights will now be enshrined in legislation. The news laws will be part of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, which is set to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, having completed its Lords stages.
The DCLG press release goes to cite our report as a reason for changing the law:
A recent report from the Tax Payers’ Alliance revealed an alarming number of councils in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire who were still keeping democracy behind closed doors. Some councils had even banned local residents from recording, blogging and tweeting at council meetings. Ministers believe these councils are clinging to outdated analogue ideals in the face of a digital age.
This is great victory for transparency, and will force the most secretive council in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, to open its doors to greater scrutiny. It is also a victory for campaign groups like 'Justice for Bridlington' who have been fighting for greater transparency after millions of pounds of taxpayers' money was wasted on a failed and botched regeneration scheme.
Although it is sad that councils like ERYC have had to be forced into allowing greater transparency, today's announcement is great news for all who want the opportunity to record and report the decisions being made in our name.