Council bloggers and tweeters backed

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RESIDENTS should be allowed to electronically record proceedings at major council meetings in order to stimulate public interest in key decisions, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

The campaign group makes the call in new research, published today, which reveals widespread anomalies in the approach of Yorkshire councils towards people wanting to tweet from meetings – or use the latest digital technology.

While York, Sheffield, Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, and North East Lincolnshire councils have no restrictions on recording, blogging and tweeting – provided meetings are not disrupted – East Riding Council forbids such practices and Rotherham Council only allows recordings on devices approved in advance.

Andrew Allison, the Alliance’s national grass roots co-ordinator, says these double standards make a mockery of the recent call by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles for an end to “analogue interpretations of council rules”.

He added: “Allowing residents the opportunity to see democracy in action is an important part of the democratic process. Not all residents will be able to attend in person, and councils can get around this by allowing residents to film meetings themselves.

“Mr Pickles says he wants to stand up for the rights of journalists and taxpayers to scrutinise and challenge decisions. He must ensure that this happens.”