We’ve written more posts than we care to remember about the performance and conduct of Thurrock Council. Here are just two of them as a sampler: Are they serious?! 20.5.22 and: How much lower can Thurrock Council sink FFS?! 9.2.22.
A theme that has emerged is the way Thurrock Council have evaded coming clean with the public of Thurrock and instead, on too many occasions, they have donned the cloak of secrecy. When a local news outlet such as Thurrock Nub News have pressed the council on difficult questions that the public would like answers to, they have found themselves held off at an arms length.
Thurrock Council are undoubtedly shite as a fair few people across the borough would be only too happy to tell you. It would seem that their peers in local government are also not exactly impressed with their performance: It’s official… 3.7.22. However, to think that this level of shithousery is unique to Thurrock Council is mistaken. Particularly when it comes to treating the local media with contempt.
The mayor of Bristol, one Marvin Rees, banned a couple of local democracy reporters from press briefings because they asked him some pointed questions about a flight he took in April to Vancouver to give a talk about the climate crisis. The reporters in question have subsequently found themselves uninvited to Bristol City Council press briefings.
Other local reporters felt this was unacceptable and have jointly decided to not attend these briefings until all journalists are invited with no exclusions: Bristol media urges mayor to reverse ban on local democracy reporters from briefings – The Bristol Cable | 6.7.22.
It would appear that local authorities want to pick and choose which members of the media they talk to and who they can exclude. To be blunt, they want stenographers who relay what they want to the public without question. What they don’t want are awkward buggers who insist on asking difficult questions. Ones that the public would like a straight answer to.
This goes beyond party politics. Thurrock Council are Tory, Marvin Rees is Labour. This is about people who hold power not wanting to be held to anything approaching full accountability. When local authorities refuse to be held to full accountability, it’s yet another indication that the system of local governance we have to endure is broken beyond repair.