THE public should soon be able to record meetings of Herefordshire Council – providing that recording doesn’t disrupt committee proceedings.

And, according to the draft, the definition of disruption is down to the relevant committee or council chairman.

The council’s constitution currently forbids the filming or recording of any meeting without the prior consent of the meeting chairman.

But the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 allow recording at meetings which are open to the public that includes filming, photographing and audio recording.

The council’s audit and corporate governance committee is expected to agree on the change to the constitution when it meets next week.

Changes to the constitution to permit recording can then be made at assistant director level.

Recording privileges are not extended to “closed doors” meetings or any meeting from which the public have been excluded.

Nor can those recording offer a “running commentary” on proceedings.

If the recording is deemed to be disrupting the meeting a chairman can ask that it be stopped and, if it not, order the recorder from the room.

Anyone intending to film, photograph or otherwise record at the meeting is required to let the council’s governance services team know as far in advance of the meeting as possible so that “appropriate arrangements” can be put in place.

Flash photography or additional lighting is not permitted without prior approval. Nor is the recording of others present if they have indicated that they do not wish to be included.

Permitting recording is a statutory requirement and, while a protocol is not essential, it is seen as mitigating the risk that those attending are unaware of their respective rights and responsibilities.

The protocol allows for the display of notices saying recording may be taking place  and for the meeting chairman to make an announcement to that effect.

Recording of council meeting for outside dissemination first became an issue in 2010 when the Hereford Times revealed the council’s plans to broadcast meeting on the internet as part of a package to improve its overall communications.

Within a week the council had pulled the plug on so called “Council TV” amid criticism over the how much the project could cost.

Cabinet instead switched to the concept of more centralised control of communications given than the council’s then self-promotion spend had risen to more than £2 million with every sign of going higher.

In 2012, the council webcast a planning meeting at its then Brockington base as a trial that attracted more than 1,000 viewers, with 463 watching on the day and another  704 logging on to the council’s website to watch it over the following five days.