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Let in the bloggers, says Neill

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Council should let bloggers and internet broadcasters into their meetings, ministers have said.

Local government minister Bob Neill has written to all councils to say they should be allowed to attend and report from meetings on the same basis as conventional journalists.

“With the growth of online film, social media and hyper-local online news [meetings] should equally be open to ‘citizen journalists’ and filming by mainstream media,” Mr Neill said.

He said cases where people had been ejected from council meetings for blogging, tweeting or filming were “potentially at odds with the fundamentals of democracy”.

The Department for Communities and Local Government singled out Tameside MBC for criticism, saying it had accredited professional journalists to report from meetings using Twitter, which “means local bloggers, the public and even councillors are not permitted to tweet because they are not considered members of the press”.

Windsor & Maidenhead RBC has decided to allow recording of all its public meetings.

A motion passed commits the council to “allow its public meetings in public places to be recorded,” so long they observe the Data Protection Act 1998 and do not cause disruption.

Chris Taggart, who runs the Openly Local website, had complained that he was ejected from a Windsor & Maidenhead council meeting after he tried to film last year.


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