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York councillors to debate filming of meetings

Councillors at work in Richmondshire where filming is allowed Councillors at work in Richmondshire where filming is allowed

Councillors in York will this evening consider allowing journalists, bloggers and other members of the public to film their meetings.

It’s the latest council to look at the issue and the meeting comes after nearby Leeds City Council took the decision to prevent people filming public meetings last month.

In contrast, York’s audit and governance committee will sit down at 5.30pm to a report from the head of communications Stewart Halliday which suggests a protocol for webcasting, filming and recording be agreed.

Alongside laying down the process by which the council will carry out its own webcasts of proceedings, the report under consideration suggests:

“Residents are permitted to film or record councillors and officers at any council meetings that are open to the public and press with immediate effect.”

It goes onto say that the council also permits tweeting or blogging and photography.

And adds:

“We may reasonably ask for the filming to be undertaken in such a way that it is not disruptive or distracting to the good order and conduct of the meeting. As a courtesy, attendees will be informed at the start of the meeting that it is being filmed; we recommend that those wanting to film liaise with council staff before the start of the meeting.”

If the recommendations are agreed tonight, the moves take York firmly in the direction proposed by communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles who wants to create rights for people interested in council meeting coverage via a new  Local Audit and Accountability Bill currently progressing through the House of Commons.

In Leeds, 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 Bill despite a high-profile campaign involving local journalists, bloggers and the city’s three university journalism schools.

Requests to councils to allow filming, recording and blogging are also currently progressing through the autumn local authority meeting cycle in many parts of the UK.

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