New law allows press and public to film in Town Hall

Can life get any better than this? I think not.  Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary and general Council Arse Kicker about town, has signed a Parliamentary order “allowing press and public to film and digitally report from all public meetings of local government bodies.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman
Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman

That’s you! And me! And anyone they drag in from the street! Who needs Big Brother anymore when we have Tower Hamlets Council meetings to film and tweet and blog and….zzzzzz.

Actually these meetings are incredibly dull so who cares but you get the idea.

And we should also take time to once more doff our hats to John Wright who had the temerity to stand up to the Council (literally) and demand the right to film back in June 2013. You can read about John upsetting people here.

You can read the press release about the new ‘right to report’ here. John Wright gets a mention, if not by name. 

But here is the best bit. Which proves once again that life is far weirder than any work of fiction.

The ‘right to report’ Parliamentary order that Mr Pickles has announced is an update to a law passed by a backbench MP many years ago.

The MP’s name? Margaret Thatcher.

The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher LG, OM, PC, FRS
The Right Honourable
The Baroness Thatcher


Here is an extract from the press release:
This new law builds on Margaret Thatcher’s successful Private Members’ Bill from 1960 which allowed for the written reporting of council meetings by the press. The new rules will apply to all public meetings, including town and parish councils and fire and rescue authorities.

Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, said:

“Half a century ago, Margaret Thatcher championed a new law to allow the press to make written reports of council meetings. We have updated her analogue law for a digital age.

Local democracy needs local journalists and bloggers to report and scrutinise the work of their council, and increasingly, people read their news via digital media. The new ‘right to report’ goes hand in hand with our work to stop unfair state competition from municipal newspapers – together defending the independent free press.

There is now no excuse for any council not to allow these new rights. Parliament has changed the law, to allow a robust and healthy local democracy. This will change the way people see local government, and allow them to view close up the good work that councillors do.”



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