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Posted by: John Brace | November 15, 2013

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied


Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

                          

There is a phrase “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied” which seems to apply to the Wirral Council/LGA Improvement Board too although they seem to have rewritten it to “Never believe anything until you’re told you can’t even speak about it”.

I’m a member of the NUJ and subject to a Code of Conduct which includes in rule one an obligation on me (rule 1) that “At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.”

So when I got a response like this (the email is copied below) in response to a question I submitted to the Improvement Board’s public question and answer session I wonder why someone doesn’t want the public to be informed on this matter and why? If there was nothing going on, surely the Wirral Council/LGA Improvement Board would welcome an opportunity to set the record straight? Have Wirral Council not heard of the Streisand effect?

An opposition councillor at last night’s Audit and Risk Management Committee was complaining that officers won’t answer his questions. If councillors can’t get answers and a question from the public is effectively censored from even being asked is it any wonder that some of the public don’t think things at Wirral Council have changed much along their much trumpeted journey to openness and transparency (accompanied by the phrase “move on” as “sweep it under the carpet” seems to have gone out of fashion)?

Below is the email and below that the question. It feels pointless to ask it at the meeting as I doubt I’ll get an answer, but it shows that the “bureaucratic machinations” referred to by Klonowski seem to still be alive and kicking.

from: CorpServ-Improvement
to: john.brace@gmail.com
date: 14 November 2013 17:16
subject: RE: questions for Wirral/LGA Improvement Board question and answer session on the 15th November 2013
mailed-by: wirral.gov.uk

Dear Mr. Brace

Thank you for your questions which I have shared with the Chair of the Improvement Board. I have been asked to advise you that Q8 refers to a member of staff and it would therefore be inappropriate for this to be discussed in a public forum.

The Chair kindly requests you do not refer to this question at the meeting.

Best Regards
Improvement Team

Q8 is The Strategic Director for Regeneration and the Environment Kevin Adderley has been mysteriously absent of late from recent public meetings at Wirral Council. Can a reason be given for this to quash (or confirm) the rumours circulating as to the reasons why?

P.S. I am reminded of an answer given by the Improvement Board to a question in July “The LGA Wirral Improvement Board meetings are not meetings of the Council at which public functions are being exercised.” Quite how you manage to have a public forum and a public meeting (or is to use a phrase trotted out by Wirral councillors when they are heckled not a public meeting but a meeting held in public?) without exercising a public function is probably one of those difficult questions there isn’t a good answer to.

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Responses

  1. Apathy by voters allows them to get away with this mere film and patina of accountability.

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    • Well we’ll see what happens in the elections next May, but some wards in Wirral have shockingly low turnouts as they are effectively one party states with no opposition from the other political parties. Elections being classed as foregone conclusions before a ballot is cast, is partly what leads to voters saying, “Why botherto vote when I feel it won’t make a difference to the outcome?”

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  2. The responses only lack menace before we enter an Orwellian vision. The menace will arrive if we let this stage proceed without challenge both in this parish and nationally.

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