The Iron Lady is on our side
PUBLISHED: 12:01 22 March 2007 | UPDATED: 14:21 04 May 2010
IT MAY not seem of much consequence, but I have a complaint. And, I believe, under the laws of the land that to protest (albeit quietly) is quite right. Last week at North Herts District Council s Royston area committee there was not a table provided for
IT MAY not seem of much consequence, but I have a complaint.
And, I believe, under the laws of the land that to protest (albeit quietly) is quite right.
Last week at North Herts District Council's Royston area committee there was not a table provided for the press.
That may not seem to matter - but remembering the days when local government was going through one of those periods of change an Act actually went through Parliament giving the right of access to council meetings for the press and public.
Part of that legislation was that at such meetings the press should be provided with a table so that the taking of notes and reporting on the matters of the day could be made less difficult.
To show that this was a serious piece of legislation it was introduced to Parliament in a Private Members' Bill by none other than Margaret Thatcher.
Obviously, one didn't argue with the Iron Lady.
Although I did once, but, as they say, that's another story.
Still she did make the point that helping the press in such matters as reporting on local government would show that transparency of local decision making.
When balancing a notebook on the knee there is always the chance that a full note on proceedings will not be taken.
There was a piece of legislation, too, that said once a report or other document had been produced at a meeting then it was in the public domain.
That is another lesson our councils need to learn - whether that report is from officers or members.
There is nothing worse than a committee sitting around (and at their own table) talking about a report which has not been issued, let alone seen, by the press and the public.
There can be no secret as the subject matter is actually being talked about in public.
If the public isn't there then it becomes more important that the press is given access to such documents.
After all, in that situation it is the eyes and the ears of the public. And that is an important role.
Obviously, a complaint such as this will not see a halt in the wheels of local government turning or an end to discussion or debate.
But the law is the law - and it was Mrs Thatcher's legislation.
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