Westminster Council is inviting bloggers, ‘citizen journalists’ and members of the public to tweet, blog and record committee meetings as it seeks to open up itself up to greater scrutiny and transparency.
The council says it is one of the first in the UK to draw up a formal protocol allowing the use of social network sites during meetings.
A report to Westminster’s General Purposes Committee says: “Transparency and openness should be the underlying principle behind everything councils do and in this digital age it is right that we modernise our approach to public access, recognising the contribution to transparency and democratic debate that social media and similar tools can make.”
The new rules follow calls from Local Government Minister Bob Neill MP for bloggers to have the same rights of access as traditional media outlets after reports that some councils were refusing to co-operate with new and online media outlets.
Committee Chairman Melvyn Caplan said the council was “committed to being open and transparent to demonstrate to our residents how we spend their hard earned money on their local services.
“While we have previously allowed filming at our council meetings with the chairman’s discretion, with the huge rise in social media and new modern recording equipment it’s right that we now update these rules to also incorporate live blogging, Twitter and Facebook.
“By sharing our knowledge and information with our citizens, we are aiming to improve the way in which we serve our local communities.”