I attended this evenings PC AGM and complementary June PC Meeting.
A degree of disquiet was evidenced when I requested permission to digitally record the proceedings. In fact, the Chairman had acquiesced to this request at the Annual Parish Assembly last week, therefore I didn’t anticipate a negative response.
However at least one Councillor declared themselves to be less than enthusiastic. Finally, it was agreed that I could record the meeting and subsequently, the Vice Chairman would look into the legality and I would delete the recording should he find that it was, or could be, proscribed.
I could have cited the relevant legislation there and then but as that would have appeared confrontational it was not a route I wanted to follow. All should be peace and light.
In fact, this right was brought into being by Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles on the 06 August 2014. The Press Release at the time stated:
“This new law builds on Margaret Thatcher’s successful Private Members’ Bill from 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.”
The Press Release continued: “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.”
As Administrator of the Whittington Blog I feel exonerated, nay, I feel personally empowered by both Margaret Thatcher and Eric Pickles.