Council officials have officially warned all photographers u2013 including amateurs and those with camera phones u2013 that they must seek permission to take pictures at council-run events, including those designed to celebrate Christmas.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council confirmed the restrictions after freelance photographer Andrew Bartlett was told to stop taking pictures at a publicly-accessible Christmas lights event earlier this month.
Bartlett had complained that a ‘Santa assistant’ – later revealed to be a council official – had approached him at a Christmas-themed market in the Welsh town.
In a statement, issued to Amateur Photographer (AP), the council said: ‘We understand the frustration of any photographer who may not be able to take photographs freely at events such as the Christmas Ilumination Ceremony, especially given their hobby and enthusiasm for photography.
‘However, as a local authority, we require all photographers and media agencies to secure permission from the council’s Corporate Communications department prior to arriving on site.’
The council said it does not currently hold an official photography policy but that this is ‘being reviewed with a view to putting a policy in place in the near future’.
The statement continued: ‘The council has a duty of care during events to members of the public, and has the right to question all photographers.
‘We ask all those wishing to film or take photos to complete a media request in advance and ensure that all appropriate consents/permissions are secured during photography sessions.
‘As a result of this, should any photographer wish to attend any future council-run events to take photographs, we recommend that they contact the Corporate Communications department prior to the event in order for us to support any requests and advise accordingly.’
A council spokesperson said the same rules apply to members of the public using camera phones.
Bartlett today told AP that the council has since sent him a copy of the rules.