CAMERAS are to be let into council meetings across Gloucestershire and Wiltshire for the first time.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles this month published a new guide explicitly permitting residents to film public meetings, dismissing claims that the practice is forbidden by the Data Protection Act and health and safety regulations.

The guidance document also sets out resident’s rights to report, blog and tweet from meetings and how to obtain publicly available documents.

Although the guidance does not apply to Wales, Mr Pickles has urged the Welsh government to adopt the rules.

“I want to stand up for the rights of journalists and taxpayers to scrutinise and challenge decisions of the state,” he said. “Data protection rules or health and safety should not be used to suppress reporting or a healthy dose of criticism.

“Modern technology has created a new cadre of bloggers and hyper-local journalists and councils should open their digital doors and not cling to analogue interpretations of council rules.

“Councillors shouldn’t be shy about the public seeing the good work they do in championing local communities and local interests.”

For more information on access rights to council meetings visit