AS new rules come into force across England that allow members of the press and public to film and use social media to report from council meetings, the leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council has warned people to think before they send an email or tweet.
This week, local government secretary Eric Pickles signed a parliamentary order to allow any member of the press, broadcasters or public to report, blog, tweet and film in all public meetings.
Julian Mott (pictured), leader of the borough council, has welcomed the 'right to report' to make meetings more open, but also advises caution over what is tweeted, emailed or blogged.
He said: "It's a good development in that the more ways in which the council can communicate, the more likely people will listen to what we have to say.
"There's been an increase in people using tablets and smartphones and it could be a cheap way to communicate.
"Councils should not be able to keep things secret and things should be out in the open unless a good reason can be proved for it not to be – if it concerns an individual, for example.
"But there are always problems with email and social media. People, in a fit of rage about something that has been said, often post or send something that they perhaps should have waited and calmed down before commenting on.
"People should remember that something posted on Facebook or Twitter is difficult to delete."
Moves to open the digital doors of public meetings to journalists, bloggers and the public follows resistance from many councils against allowing the filming or tweeting of meetings by journalists and the public.
Mr Pickles hopes the move will allow for greater scrutiny of the work of councillors, at the same time as "allowing them to view close-up the good work that councillors do."
A simple guide has been published by the Government on the changes to inform people of their rights.