Public can now film South Ribble Council meetings

South Ribble Council scrutiny meeting on Tuesday
South Ribble Council scrutiny meeting on Tuesday
Share this article

Members of the public are now allowed to take photographs, film, and even Tweet and blog from South Ribble Council meetings.

In the past, the council has discouraged residents from doing these things, because using mobile phones can interfere with the microphone system used during meetings at the Civic Centre in Leyland.

But after Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles signed a parliamentary order this month, allowing the press and public to film and digitally report from all public meetings of local authorities, South Ribble has been left with no choice but to roll with the times.

Council leader Margaret Smith says the council is now looking at alternative technology so that when people do use their phones and tablets at meetings, the microphones won’t be affected.

She told the Guardian: “We’ve already had someone in to look at the technical system and we will review the situation once that information comes back.

“We’ve never stopped people from videoing, but some phones do interfere with the microphones. There hasn’t been a prohibition on it, but it is annoying when you get that crackling sound from the microphones, which is why we say it’s best not to use that sort of thing.”

She added: “The system is getting on in years now, so we’ve got to keep up with the times, however costly it might be.

“Some councils already allow filming, and we knew this was coming, so I suppose people at South Ribble will get used to it.”

Lancashire County Council already streams its meetings live on the internet, and this has also been considered by the borough council.

In a report compiled by the council’s scrutiny committee into a review of its external communications, one option was the “possibility of webcasting council meetings to better engage with residents to enhance openness and transparency.”

But following the review, which was launched in 2011, it was “not considered that this should be implemented, as it is likely to be prohibitive in financial terms, which will outweigh the potential benefits.”

However, it now adds: “This issue will need to be further considered following the recent publication of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.”