Sefton Council should no longer be able to exclude the media and the public from meetings without giving advance notice of the reasoning and the opportunity for that reasoning to be challenged!

The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 (the 2012 Regulations) set out a statutory presumption of openness for all council committee meetings.

They introduce a new requirement that local authorities give 28 days prior public notice of their intention to hold any meetings in private and their reasons for doing so, in order to provide the opportunity for public challenge.

Five clear days before the meeting, the authority must then post a further notice of the reasons for its intended exclusion of the media and public, details of any representations received as to why the meeting should be held in public and its response to them.

The media and the public should use this opportunity to challenge council secrecy, as the regulations will make exclusion mandatory, not discretionary as at present, for the parts of meetings at which exempt information is likely to be disclosed after a resolution to that effect is passed, as well as where confidential information might be disclosed. What are your thoughts on this subject?

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