FILMING at Bexley Council meetings will remain banned despite new government guidance calling on councils to allow it.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has published a guide explicitly stating local authorities should allow the public to film meetings.

The document refutes arguments the Data Protection Act prohibits filming or that health and safety regulations bar the practice.

On Friday (June 14), Mr Pickles said: "I want to stand up for the rights of journalists and taxpayers to scrutinise and challenge decisions of the state.

"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."

Bexley Council will continue to prohibit audio and visual filming of meetings as it has an "agreed protocol" to prevent councillors and members of the public from being filmed without their consent.

A spokeswoman said webcasting is being considered as an option once the council moves to the Woolwich building in Bexleyheath town centre next year.