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Eric Pickles has announced that he will be publishing new guidance to open up planning appeal hearings for the press and public
Freedom of speech and independent journalism is at serious risk due to the actions of abusive authorities, according to the MP for Ongar.
Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has slammed councils across the UK for banning residents and members of the press from filming and tweeting from meetings.
Mr Pickles has announced that he will be publishing new guidance in an attempt to change policy.
Mr Pickles said: “A small number of councils are blocking filming because they want to suppress independent reporting, just as some councils are clinging to their town hall Pravdas.
“An independent local press and robust public scrutiny is essential for a healthy local democracy: without the sunlight of transparency, the flowering of localism will wither.
“Heavy-handed councils who call the police to suppress freedom of speech are abusing state powers."
New guidance from the Planning Inspectorate will explain the rights for members of the press and public, including local bloggers, to report, film and tweet planning appeal hearings.
In June, Mr Pickles published clear guidance to councils asking them to relax rules on social media.
Mr Pickles added: “Councillors shouldn’t be ashamed or be trying to hide the work they do. I am opening up the planning appeals that my department oversees, so the public can see how the planning system works in practice.
“Councils should match this by opening up their planning meetings and other committees.”
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