I have, in the past, touched upon my Parish Council's difficulties with social media, in particular the divergence of views between myself and our Chair, and the Parish Clerk.
Our Chair is deeply suspicious of individualism, pleading collective responsibility as grounds to discourage personal commentary on the activities of the Parish Council. Given his background, such a stance is understandable, even as it vaguely bothers me.
Our Parish Clerk is more interested in using our website to communicate, and has initiated a Twitter feed (@creetingstpeter) which occasionally broadcasts news of potential interest - flood warnings, local events and the like. She does like to manage our external communication, which occasionally comes into conflict with the notion of independent councillors, but nonetheless, we are fairly cutting edge by rural parish standards.
But now, Eric Pickles has changed the game somewhat. His announcement that broadcasting of council meetings, live blogging from the public gallery, and even Twitter, are to be encouraged, nay welcomed, rather changes the balance of things.
The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 will come into force on 10 September 2012. Amongst the changes are new legal rights for citizen reporters. Local authorities are now obliged to provide reasonable facilities for members of the public to report the proceedings as well as accredited newspapers (regulation 4). This will make it easier for new 'social media' reporting of council executive meetings thereby opening proceedings up to internet bloggers, tweeting and hyperlocal news forums.
Which means that I am able to tweet my way through Parish Council meetings from here on in, and blog about them afterwards. Giving that public attendance at our meetings is generally low, and getting lower it seems, it won't create many issues in terms of facility provision, but it does create a window of opportunity for yours truly.
Mwah ha ha ha...