We have been lobbying for the council to allow residents observing council meetings to film them or use Twitter to share information with others who could not attend. Until now, Barnet council has taken an extremely bureaucratic line on this, citing out of date regulations that took no account of people’s expecations of greater transparency or of advances in technology.

At the cabinet meeting on 14 February, residents in the gallery were warned off trying to film proceedings with their cameraphone. Now the Department for Communities and Local Government has issued guidelines to councils urging them to allow residents to film meetings and use social media.

See the letter here.

We are urging residents and people attending the Barnet council meeting on Tuesday 1 March (lobby from 6pm, meeting from 7pm) to bring their cameraphones and a copy of this letter. The council should heed the advice of the government and allow greater transparency in its dealings. If the council won’t give ground on this, we will have to take it!

Update, 28 February 2011

After legal advice, a Barnet blogger, Vicki Morris, has, through Bindmans solicitors, written to Barnet council leader Lynne Hillan questioning her legal right to prohibit filming and tweeting by the public. Read the letter here.