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Labour support on council filming issue

Hilary Benn being interviewed Hilary Benn being interviewed

The campaign to allow filming at Leeds City Council is gathering momentum with Leeds MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hilary Benn coming out in support of government moves to open up town halls.

Journalists, bloggers and the three journalism schools in the city want to be able to film and record the proceedings of public meetings and have urged local councillors to allow the cameras.

But on Monday the council decided it would not make the necessary changes to allow filming and instead would wait until it sees the detail of the forthcoming Local Audit and Accountability Bill which will give the public new rights to blog, tweet and film meetings.

Now, one of those campaigning on the issue, the Leeds Citizen blog reports that Benn has given Labour’s backing to the government proposals and told the Commons yesterday:

“In this day and age, big changes in technology make recording and videoing readily possible, and I cannot see the difference between sitting in a meeting, listening and writing down what is being said, or—for those who have shorthand—taking a verbatim record, and making one’s own recording.”

But the campaigners could be waiting for some months yet – the Bill is currently progressing through the House of Commons and is awaiting a committee hearing date.

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