Eric Pickles has today attacked ''heavy handed'' councils who intimidate or even arrest bloggers at council meetings and accused them of abusing their powers.
The Communities Secretary cited a number of examples of reporters, community bloggers and other members of the public being barred from council meetings for texting, tweeting or filming.
Announcing new guidance to open up Planning Inspectorate appeals hearings to the public, Pickles threw down the gauntlet to local authorities to adopt the same levels of openness.
He named and shamed seven councils which have taken steps to bar, censor or remove members of the public during meetings, including an authority in Carmarthenshire which instructed police to arrest and handcuff a blogger for attempting to film a council meeting.
Pickles said that "a small number of councils are blocking filming because they want to suppress independent reporting, just as some councils are clinging to their town hall Pravdas".
"Councillors shouldn't be ashamed or be trying to hide the work they do," he said.
He added: "An independent local press and robust public scrutiny is essential for a healthy local democracy: without the sunlight of transparency, the flowering of localism will wither. Heavy-handed councils who call the police to suppress freedom of speech are abusing state powers."