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Letter: Council Policy Militates Against Open Reporting

Published on: 28 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 28 Jun, 2017

From Ben Paton

I agree with Barbara Ford’s view as stated in her letter It’s Not Just Journalism Resources. The problem for local news publications is indeed not just a matter of resources.

Journalists cannot do their job if they are boycotted and abused by the public authorities. That’s what happens in Russia – where a number of prominent journalists have been murdered.

The ethos at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) is not conducive to genuine public debate on policy. Its preferred modus operandi is to decide policy within the Conservative group in private and then promote it ruthlessly through the council.

The press is used as a mouthpiece to disseminate the propaganda of the day. Any comments that are considered to be “off-message” are smothered with mis-information and the media channels are deliberately subjected to ad hominem abuse.

Why won’t GBC disclose the arithmetic model behind the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)? It repeats the argument that the formulae are “commercially sensitive”. Then it claims it does not hold the formulae. This is all nonsense.

The fact of the matter is GBC does not wish to be accountable and has no intention of engaging with the public through the press.

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Responses to Letter: Council Policy Militates Against Open Reporting

  1. John Perkins Reply

    July 14, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    GBC’s claim of “commercial sensitivity” is utterly false. Taxpayers have funded the SHMA and therefore have ownership of it. Public money should mean public information.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Initially they claimed that the sub-sub contractors had “intellectual property rights” over the research information. They even claim that they, the council have not seen the research. If so how can they make a reasoned judgement as to what the numbers should be for developing Guildford? Justin Gardner, who actually claimed to have carried out the survey could have plucked the numbers from the air. Dissenters to the inflated numbers have no faith in them.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    July 17, 2017 at 8:55 am

    The commercial sensitivity claim is currently being taken up with the Data Commissioner next week following discovery of a ‘commercially sensitive’ document being on the web since 2014 a year prior to a claim of confidentiality.

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