It been a couple of months since I began enquiring into local authorities’ attitudes to blogging, tweeting, and in particular filming at their meetings. All of Wales’ 22 authorities have sent a reply to my enquiry into policies they have on this issue which can be seen here. It would seem that most councils do not have extensive or definite policies on the issue of the public filming at council meetings. What is clear is that most councils leave permission to film at council meetings at the discretion of mayors or, in most cases to the council chairperson. This is, of course a reasonable policy, however there are no guidelines for chairpeople to follow, which outlining under what circumstances can they allow or refuse filming. When I attempted to ask about such guidelines my requests were refused due to their “similarity” to my initial requests.
It is interesting to note, however, that the Welsh Government has not given any information or guidance to Welsh councils on this issue. I asked,
“Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please provide copies of
B) discussions (emails / memos)
sent to all or any Welsh councils relating to the following:
1) filming of council meetings
2) tweeting at council meetings
3) blogging of council meetings”
The response was:
“I have not found any information that fits this description. The Minister for Local Government and Communities has not issued any advice, directives or memos to Welsh councils regarding this matter.”
Of course the Welsh Government would argue that they leave such issues to the local authorities, however, this lessaiz fare attitude isn’t always the case in Welsh Government and local authority relations.
After hearing the terrible way Carmarthenshire County council treated a Jacqui Thompson and seeing that a FOI request was sent to the council in question about their policies on blogging, tweeting, and filming at council meetings, I thought it would be great to see how each of Wales’ 22 councils treat these issues. So I have already put a request into my council, Powys. I urge you to do so with your council.