Your rights to attend and report council meetings

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Your rights to attend and report council meetings

On 31 July 2014 national rules in relation to the recording, filming, broadcasting and reporting of council meetings came into force. The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 increased the rights of the members of the public and press attending meetings to film, audio-record, take photographs and use social media and blogging to report the proceedings of all council meetings that are open to the public.

Public meetings

Rother District Council meetings are usually scheduled well in advance and details of the forthcoming meetings are available on the calendar of meetings. The agenda and reports for all public meetings are published five clear working days prior to the meeting on the Council's website and are also available for inspection at the Council offices in Bexhill, Battle and Rye.  Hard copies are available on request but are subject to a charge.

All Rother District Council meetings are open to the public except in limited defined circumstances where the national rules require or allow the meeting to be closed to the public, namely when matters of a confidential nature are being considered.

Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014

The Regulations made the recording, filming, broadcasting and reporting of public Council and committee meetings permissible with the knowledge of all persons present. This includes the reporting of meetings via social media of any kind such as; tweeting, blogging and Facebook.

If you wish to film or audio record a public meeting, it is recommended that you give prior notice to Democratic Services, particularly if you have equipment that requires setting up. This will enable us to make reasonable facilities available, such as a desk, provide the best vantage point for your activities and ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum. (Please note your equipment must be fully charged as there is no facility to provide power). These activities will only be denied if the setting up of any associated equipment is disruptive to the meeting.

When carrying out these activities you should not disrupt proceedings or impede other members of the public from being able to see, hear or film the proceedings, this could include for example:

  • Moving outside the area designated for the public
  • Excessive noise in recording, or setting up, or re-siting equipment during the debate/discussion
  • Intrusive lighting and the use of flash photography
  • Asking Members to repeat statements for the purpose of recording

You can provide a written commentary during the meeting as well as an oral commentary outside or after the meeting. You cannot provide an oral commentary during the meeting as this would be disruptive.

In the interests of those attending the meeting, should you wish to pack up and finish prior to the end of the meeting, we ask that you do so quietly, so that others attending and taking part in the meeting are not disturbed.

You are expected to film or record a meeting in an open manner so that all present are aware that the meeting is being reported on.  This will ensure that all those attending the meeting are happy to be filmed or recorded. Although those Councillors and officers attending Council and committee meetings are deemed to have consented to the recording of the meeting, you must respect the rights of other people attending under the Data Protection act 1998.   Prior to the start of the meeting the Chairman will ask the public to indicate whether they intend to record or film the meeting to enable anyone in the public gallery to object to them being recorded.

The Chairman has absolute discretion to terminate or suspend any activity, if they believe that proceedings would be prejudiced at the meeting or that it would cause disruption to officers, councillors or other members of the public present.

Guidance issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government) for the press and public on attending and reporting meetings of local government is available under related links at the bottom of the page.

Democratic Services
Email: democraticservices@rother.gov.uk
Tel: 01424 787812
 

 

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