We had a high court case over libraries last week. The council withdrew and lost the case. Since then it has launched a vitriolic campaign against the local campaigners in three press releases. Late on Friday, the chief monitoring officer and chief executive slammed a gagging clause on all councillors. The gagging memo is phrased as a “request” but I know that if any councillor ignores this request is ignored, flack will fly in their direction.
We are told we cannot comment in any way on the case. That probably means that I can’t comment on the council reaction. Or why it has decided to attack a local community at the same time it is planning to work more closely with local people.
Does this happen in other councils? Or is it an only in Shropshire moment?
Sorry, I can’t tell you what the case was or anything about it. You can read about it in the media and on the Shropshire Council website. The campaigners have published a statement, as have their lawyers.
But as a democratically elected councillor – and an outspoken champion of free speech – I can’t talk about it.
That’s Shropshire Council for you. It will not allow cameras into council meetings in clear breach of the law. It blew a rage over my exposure that it was going to ban the public from asking questions at council meetings. Now it says councillors shouldn’t comment on a matter that is vital to the future relationship between Shropshire Council and local communities.
I will be slammed by senior executives in Shropshire Council for publishing this post. But I am used to being on the naughty step. I can’t see the point in being a councillor unless I speak up for local communities. To do that I need freedom of speech. That’s not something that Shropshire Council believes in.