Local government secretary Eric Pickles is challenging the Welsh government to give journalists and bloggers an automatic right to Tweet from council meetings.
New regulations were introduced in England last September designed to open up council meetings in England by allowing journalists the right to film them as well as cover them on Twitter.
However the Welsh administration in Cardiff has so far delayed introducing similar rules, leading to a spate of ‘Right to Tweet’ rows involving Welsh newspapers, notably the North Wales Daily Post.
Mr Pickles also clamis some English councils have failed to implement the new regulations, with one refusing to allow filming citing ‘health and safety’ reasons.
The minister is today publishing a new guide for local people explaining how they can attend and report local council meetings.
It states explicitly that Councils should allow the public to film council meetings.
Said Mr Pickles: “I want to stand up for the rights of journalists and taxpayers to scrutinise and challenge decisions of the state. 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.
“I challenge the Welsh Government to give taxpayers in Wales the same rights as those in England now have, and stop the scandal of free speech being suppressed in Wales’ town halls.”
The Daily Post launched a fight to allow the use of Twitter at council meetings after being hit by a ban by Wrexham Borough Council.
Neighbouring Flintshire County Council has since agreed to the use of Twitter at all open meetings, although it is still up to individual councils in Wales whether or not allow to it.