The first Haverhill Town Council meeting to have been filmed in full by a member of the public has taken place after months of campaigning.
The Town Council meeting on August 12 was recorded by film maker Aaron Luccarini, 18, from Haverhill.
It’s the first such meeting where cameras and recording equipment have been allowed since Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, signed a Parliamentary order on August 6 allowing press and the public to film and digitally report public meetings of local government bodies.
Mr Pickles’ legislation builds upon Margaret Thatcher’s Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, which allowed the written reporting of council meetings.
“It’s a very important development,” said Mr Luccarini. “Although councils were open to the public, in reality they were only open to those with the time to attend.
“With filming, anyone can see the important decisions made in Haverhill. It’s this openness that will, in turn, improve Haverhill.
“If people know exactly what those who are representing them are doing, then they can see and decide if they are doing the right thing.
“This power greatly improves democracy.
“The public has now been given the power to change the way councillors vote, because if councillors voted in a way the public didn’t like they would now know and in turn would effect how the public vote in elections.”
Mr Luccarini, who has just completed his A-levels, had previously worked to record police Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) meetings and stream them online.
Despite initial resistance from Haverhill Town Council, meetings can now be recorded and distributed by members of the public.
Writing to Mr Luccarini in August, previous Haverhill town clerk, Will Austin, raised concerns over the effects filming town council meetings could have.
“You only have to watch Prime Minister’s Questions on a Wednesday to see how some MPs play to the wider audience,” Mr Austin wrote. “This would be a concern.
“At the same time some people are naturally more retiring when faced with a camera, and others quite deliberately avoid saying anything that they consider could be controversial.
“So, whilst making a video of meetings available online may on the face of it enhance local democracy, we do need to be aware of factors that may serve to undermine that aim.”
Visit www.haverhillecho.com to see the full video of the meeting