An Open Letter to Scarborough Borough Council Leader, Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] from Enquirer contributor TIM HICKS, also submitted directly, via email, on the subject (ironically) of opened emails . . .
Dear Councillor Bastiman,
Open Letter concerning Electronic Surveillance of Councillors and Journalists by Scarborough Borough Council
Further to my recent article on this topic, I am writing in connection with the recent controversy concerning the Council’s policy on emails from “unreasonable complainants”. You have been quoted in the North Yorks Enquirer as having stated:
“The council has recently been criticised by some of its own councillors for the way in which emails from unreasonable complainants are handled. Again this is disappointing when those councillors approved the policy in relation to this to protect our staff and elected members. Our policy on this process is clear. Such behaviour is dealt with by a simple, overt, and reasonable practice, which is in operation throughout the public sector for the protection of not only staff and councillors, but also to protect limited resources and ensure the council’s ability to correspond with its customers and deliver its services is not hindered. We will continue to take all reasonable steps, as laid out in the policy, to comply with our legal and moral responsibility to look after our staff and members.”
If this is so, then in accordance with your assurances that Scarborough Borough Council apply this policy in a “simple, overt, and reasonable” way, please can you confirm:
- Is this policy applied to me?
- If so why has it been applied and what incidents does SBC cite, to justify applying it to me?
- On what basis does SBC allege that the purpose of the North Yorks Enquirer is to cause “nuisance and disruption” to SBC as a justification for refusing to respond to Freedom of Information requests and correspondence? Given that SBC Councillors publish articles in the NYE and its stated objective is:
“The North Yorks Enquirer is an internet news magazine covering local, regional and some national news. It provides a forum for citizen journalists working in the public interest to expose wasteful spending, malpractice and corruption in authorities around North Yorkshire and beyond”.
I have tried to resolve these issues (and others) by corresponding with Mr Kitson and Mrs Dixon on this topic, but they have ignored my correspondence and this obviously conflicts with your assurances that the policy is applied overtly and reasonably.
On a personal note, I hope this email finds you in good health and heart and enjoying the festive season. I look forward to hearing from you in due course and will publish your response in full.
Tim HICKS, Luxembourg. 2nd January, 2018.