Freedom of speech row

The Welsh Government has been strongly criticised by a UK minister for not following his lead in taking action to protect the right to report, film and tweet local council meetings.

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Welsh ministers "in dark ages" claim Tories.

The shadow Welsh local government minister has defended the decision by a UK cabinet minister to officially criticise the Welsh Government for not following his lead in allowing the public to report film and tweet local council meetings.

As the Conservative-led Coalition makes further steps towards increased openness and transparency in local government, under Labour Wales is being left behind. Opening up council expenditure and meetings to public scrutiny is the best way to root out waste and avoid corrupt and inappropriate behaviour. In recent months in Caerphilly Council we’ve seen the scandalous wrongdoing that can occur when meetings are held in secret with the bumper pay increases that senior staff awarded themselves.

In an age of voter apathy, we should be making council meetings more accessible by encouraging engagement, live tweeting and web-broadcasting of all council meetings. I fail to understand why the Welsh Labour Government continues to defend keeping taxpayers in the dark about their elected representatives making decisions in their name with their money. Welsh Labour Ministers must move out the dark ages and allow the Welsh public to better engage in local democracy.

– Shadow Local Government Minister Janet Finch-Saunders AM

The row broke when the minister responsible for local government in England, Eric Pickles, released a letter he's sent today to the Welsh local government minister, Lesley Griffiths.

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