DCLG have today announced that residents, bloggers, tweeters, community activists and hyperlocal sites should have the same access and facilities to council meetings as traditional newspaper journalists. This is important because it means Government recognises the valuable contribute the wider community makes to accountability in local government.
It’s a very timely announcement. For a while now I’ve been interested in the openness of council meetings. Namely, whether citizens, media or councillors are permitted to live tweet/blog, record audio of or film public meetings.
These are just a few examples of the current state of play so an effort to document which councils allow their meetings to be opened up I created Open Council Meetings, a simple project to track which councils allow tweeting, recording and filming of meetings.
My hope is that the project can help bring together localgov enthusiasts, hyperlocal bloggers and active citizens to monitor the situation and put pressure on councils to open up.
You can follow all the action on the GMP website, where they are aggregating together the outputs from three different Twitter streams, or just get the latest from @gmpolice.
As I said, interesting stuff, and a great use of the scale that social media tools like Twitter offer in terms of quickly publishing a lot of information. Imagine doing something like this through traditional web publishing tools!
It’s also a great example of a public service using transparency proactively and positively. It doesn’t always have to be bad news.