Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Some Councils just don't get it, do they!


Wrexham Council has banned a local journalist from sending tweets during a council meeting:

The shock move came this morning when reporter Steve Bagnall attempted to live tweet from a Wrexham Council meeting set to discuss school bus price rises. Steve was asked not to tweet as it constituted a form of broadcast.

This is ridiculous - and probably wrong (although the rules say that the Chairman of a meeting can stop most stuff if he's grumpy enough). But why on earth does this Council think that stopping Mr Bagnall tweeting helps anything at all?

Stupid. Worse, stupidly arrogant.

Update: Comment from Carl Minns - former lead of Hull City Council - on the matter provides some more background - which you can read on his blog - as to how these bans are a misunderstanding of the law (what a surprise!)

There is nothing in this clause the prevents the council from allowing people from tweeting at meetings. I would actually go further and say that given the technology of 1972 this clause is clearly meant to cover broadcast and photographic mediums. I don't think Ted Heath's government thought about banning the transmitting of the written word out of the Town Hall. Clause 6 C actually implies this

(c)while the meeting is open to the public, duly accredited representatives of newspapers attending the meeting for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for those newspapers shall, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report and, unless the meeting is held in premises not belonging to the council or not on the telephone, for telephoning the report at their own expense.

So, the framers of this bill clearly intended for newspapers to be afforded facilities to get the word out of what is happening at meetings. It is not a real leap of imagination to conclude that non members of the press can report proceedings but they just can't be "afforded reasonable facilities"

1 comment:

Carl Minns said...

This is not the first Council to try this. When Councils have tried this in the past it has been based on a fundamental misreading of section 100 A of the Local government act 1972.

More here http://carlminns.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/council-bans-public-from-tweeting-from.html