Council meetings are public meetings. Elected representatives and council officers acting
in the public sphere should expect to be held to account for their comments and votes in
such meetings. The rules require councils to provide reasonable facilities for any member
of the public to report on meetings. Councils should thus allow the filming of councillors
and officers at meetings that are open to the public.
The Data Protection Act does not prohibit such overt filming of public meetings. Councils
may reasonably ask for the filming to be undertaken in such a way that it is not disruptive
or distracting to the good order and conduct of the meeting. As a courtesy, attendees
should be informed at the start of the meeting that it is being filmed; we recommend that
those wanting to film liaise with council staff before the start of the meeting.
The council should consider adopting a policy on the filming of members of the public
speaking at a meeting, such as allowing those who actively object to being filmed not to be
filmed, without undermining the broader transparency of the meeting.
Similarly under the new rules there can be social media reporting of meetings. Thus
bloggers, tweeters, facebook and YouTube users, and individuals with their own website,
should be able to report meetings. You should ask your council for details of the facilities
they are providing for citizen journalists.
The relevant legislation relating to access to information regarding decisions made by
council executives, and their committees/subcommittees and joint committees is Part 1A of
the Local Government Act 2000 – see sections 9G and 9GA. It was inserted as a result of
amendments made by the Localism Act 2011 and the relevant provisions are available at
the following link:
The detailed provisions are contained in the secondary legislation made under the 2000
Act, that is the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to
Information) (England) Regulations 2012 which can be found at:
Descriptions of Exempt Information
The exempt information set out at Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 Act is as follows:
- Information relating to any individual.
- Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.
- Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
- Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under, the authority.
- Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.
- Information which reveals that the authority proposes—
a. to give under any enactment a notice under or by virtue of which requirements are imposed on a person; or
b. to make an order or direction under any enactment.
- Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.
The qualifications to the list of exempt information are as follows:
A. Information falling within number 3 above is not exempt information by virtue of that paragraph if it is required to be registered under–
the Companies Acts as defined in section 2 of the Companies Act 2006
the Friendly Societies Act 1974;
the Friendly Societies Act 1992;
the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions
Acts 1965 to 1978;
the Building Societies Act 1986; or
[(f) the Charities Act 2011.
B. Information is not exempt information if it relates to proposed development for which the
local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to regulation 3 of
the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992.
C. Information which—
falls within any of numbers 1 to 7 above; and
is not prevented from being exempt by virtue of number A or B above, is exempt information if, and so long as, in all the circumstances of the case, the public
interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the