Thursday 1 November 2012

Brent Communication Team refuse to communicate with Wembley Matters

by Martin Redston
 Every now and again I get asked by readers why I do not let Brent Council give their version of events when I run critical stories on this blog such as the recent one on the apparent demise of the four borough supercontract.

The short answer is that the press office refuses to respond. An earlier reason given was that this was because I was not 'official media' . I retorted that this sounded rather Stalinist. When trying to get a quote on the supercontract story I was again refused.

I suggested that the Council needed to revise its policy in the light of the development of 'citizen journalism'. I pointed out that I was trying to be fair to the Council by including their comments. With 400-600 page views a day (14,000plus last month) and followed via Twitter by local councillors and our local MP, surely it was to their advantage to be able to comment on stories that were often followed up by the local press.

They went away to consult on this with the Head of Communications and issued the following statement:
The press desk deals with enquiries from accredited journalists e.g. a local radio or newspaper journalist, a member of the National Union of Journalists or a recognised freelance.

It does not currently include enquiries from citizen journalists and blog authors because the expected volume of enquiries would be extremely difficult for the Communications Team to manage.

So with a Communications Team that won't communicate I am left with the option of making cumbersome Freedom of Information requests that take weeks to get a response or hoping that the 'official' press follows up the stories.

By the way, I regularly get official press releases sent to me from Muhammed Butt's office...

Supporters have suggested that readers should tweet Brent Council to tell them they should talk to me @BrentCouncil.

Feel free! 


Anonymous said...

I guess it is tricky as your not just a 'citizen jorno' but also somebody who regularly loses by-elections as a Green candidate - so you have a political angle to your blog (which is excellent nevertheless)

Martin Francis said...

Fair point, cheekily made! But the questions I ask are factual. In this case, what will Brent do about the four borough supercontract, on which it is supposed to be leading, when two of the boroughs have dropped out? I do of course stand by my entirely consistent record regarding losing by-elections!