I often wonder, whether Thanet Council is unique, with its sometime complacent attitude to residents and apparent hostility to free and democratic media, still drawn to a blog with the snappy title of "Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and more" after a reference in the current addition of Private Eye to the blog's author Jacqui Thompson.
Well reading this story from that blog would indicate that Thanet Council are not alone in the attitude to, we the people.
As my readers will be aware, I recently had cause to complain, when challenged by the councils security guard, I emailed Sue McGonical Chief Executive, concerned at what I perceived to be intimidating behaviour and harassment by the council at a public meeting, almost seven days later a reply turned up in my inbox, not from the Chief Executive but from democratic services.
Here is an extract from their reply to which I add come comments
The current policy regarding public meetings is that “unauthorised recording or relaying” of proceedings is not allowed, but I hope that you will appreciate that it is not always easy for the security staff to understand what members of the public are doing with mobile phones. My comment surely if I was making a phone call I would hold the phone to my ear, how difficult is that? And couldn't they accept a simple explanation??????
My understanding is that a relatively new member of building security staff took an over-zealous interpretation of the rules. He twice asked you to stop using your mobile phone, but he did not ask you to leave the Council Chamber. My Comment Why didn't one of the highly paid, some would say overpaid officers, intervene.
There has been no recent change in policy and it was clearly inappropriate of him to take that action. Clear instructions have since been given to the security staff. My comment Why not adequately train staff in contact with the public to understand, that the local authority, is supposed to be run on open, honest and democratic lines for the benefit of local people not as some club for council officers.
One day local authorities will have to realise that they work for the community, end of story, till then, petty regulations and arrogance shall reign. Till then people like Jacqui Thompson will have to battle for unfettered access to the democratic process.