A new set of national rules on local government (Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014) is expected to become law on 6 August. The rules have been changed to make councils – including parish and town councils – and other local government bodies such as fire and rescue authorities, more transparent and accountable to their local communities.
The new national rules also apply to the committees, sub-committees and joint committees
of these local government bodies
Among other things, the new rules require councils and other local government bodies to allow any member of the public to take photographs, film and audio-record the proceedings, and report on all public meetings – and to provide reasonable facilities for them to do so. Prior permission is not needed, though people are advised to give notice if they require any facilities.
It will be a legal duty for the local government body to follow the new provisions, and Standing Orders cannot be used as an excuse to avoid them. If existing Standing Orders are not fully in line with the new legislation, it is recommended that in the short-term any provisions contrary to the new reporting rules should simply be waived, and then steps should be taken to formally update the Standing Orders.