Those who have been following Tony's BigNews Margate Blog will know that Tony has been, rightly I think, a strong critic of KCC's TV nonsense and the awful waste of almost £2,000,000 of tax-payers money. The actions by KCC and the TV providers to attempt to gag him have been un-inspiring. I copy for your attention, if not seen on other Blogs already, a missive from Tony and his e-mail to KCC Councillors. I hope we see him blogging on Big News again soon.
As you may know, I have suspended new posts to my weblog Bignews Margate, a few days ago pending the receipt of a reply to the email I sent to Paul Carter requesting that he give a clear indication as leader of a democratically elected local authority, whether he support of the right of constituents to comment freely of council matters without contractors taking issue with comments nor address to them but the local authority.To this point of had no reply, today I sent an email to all of Kent's County councilors, with exception of Paul Carter, since I have received no reply from my earlier e-mail to him. Anyway for your information here is the text of my e-mail to Kent council's elected representatives.Ideally I would like apology from Kent Council, however I realise it's unlikely but I will not resume my blog until such time as Kent Council acknowledge I have a freedom of speech. The creation of Kent TV was always going to be contentious, Paul Carter's failure along with that of a civil servant Peter Gilroy to acknowledge my right to free speech, is just plain insulting.
Text of my Email
Dear councilor,I am a local blogger, I write about local issues predominantly concerning Kent and generally more specifically Thanet.I frequently write about policy issues concerning Kent Council, naturally Kent council's high profile project Kent TV is one of those issues I considered worth referring to, since broadcast media would appear, to many people a departure from the normal services, taxpayers expect from their local authority.
At the end of June last year, I received a letter from a Kent County council contractor, taking exception to comments I had made about Kent TV, the first line of their letter being " I am responding to the comments posted on your blog regarding Kent TV". This letter appeared to carry an implied threat that should I make further comments, they might well sue me.
At the time, I contacted the company concerned, asking the author of the letter whether there were any statements etc. that they wished me to withdraw, and at no point was I asked withdraw any statements.Also at around the same time I contacted both Paul Carter, and then Peter Gilroy concerning this matter both subsequently wrote to me, apparently both supporting the contractors rights, but neither appeared to acknowledge my right to express a valid opinion on the wisdom of a public authority wasting taxpayers' money on a questionable enterprise.
At no time do I feel that I have criticised the professionalism or competence of any contractor, although I have certainly questioned the output of Kent TV and its purpose.I would like Kent Council, to make a clear statement, to the effect that Kent residents are entitled to make reasonable comments as they see fit about political issues in line with those rights guaranteed under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If Kent Council don't make a clear commitment to residents, rights to free speech, then whats next, contractors to other departments sending out letters, when say a resident complains about Kent Highways maybe suppliers of cones, tarmac or even advertising might send letters offering legal action?I have currently suspended posts to my blog site, until such time as Paul Carter responds to the email I sent him on the 13th of January 2009. All I want is a clear statement from KCC making it clear they support free speech even if its critical.
Regards Tony Flaig