You will now be able to freely tweet and film video clips of your democracy in action at Harrow Council, a move opposition councillors feel will invite some much-needed scrutiny of Labour’s administration .
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced new provisions in a bid to increase public involvement in local governance, leaving councils no longer able to boot out those who choose to record and share the goings on when politicians meet to discuss and vote on key issues.
The announcement comes after Labour’s council leader David Perry declined to have opposition politicians on his cabinet as non-executive members – unlike the previous Independent Labour and Conservative administrations which invited the extra scrutiny.
Opposition leader Councillor Susan Hall (Conservative) said: “Anything which makes it easier for Harrow residents to see how decisions get made is good news, and allowing people to debate and discuss what’s happening on social media during the meetings is an exciting prospect.
“Through their cowardly decision to kick the opposition off cabinet, Labour effectively removed any scrutiny from the meetings – which are now just Labour congratulating themselves for 90 minutes.”
Without any opposition councillors on the cabinet, opposition councillors are given limited amounts of time with which to ask questions, and the clock is often run down with lengthy answers meaning many questions do not get to be asked in front of taxpayers in attendance.
Ms Hall added: “My hope is that, with cameras in their faces, people poised on Twitter, and knowing that residents will be able to see if they act in a secretive fashion, Labour will be more open when conducting themselves in public.”
Eric Pickles, who runs the DCLG, has long been an advocate of local authorities streaming its meetings online. This policy has been carried out by Brent Council, but not yet by Harrow Council.
Mr Perry said: “The government have legislated to approve the filming of public council meetings, and therefore the council are more than happy for residents or local media to film formal meetings.
“This has occurred numerous times in the past, however, the council request that should anyone wish to film council meetings, a formal approach is made in advance, so we can allocate the necessary space at the relevant meeting for this to take place.”
What do you think about the new rules?
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