Thursday 29 June 2017

NUJ condemn Kensington and Chelsea bar on press at tonight's Cabinet meeting

Following reports that journalists have been barred from the first meeting of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council’s cabinet since the Grenfell Tower fire, the NUJ condemned the decision to stop media access and called on the council to change its approach.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ acting general secretary, said:
We are deeply disturbed at the news that the Kensington and Chelsea council cabinet meeting tonight will be held in private. The ban on media attendance should be lifted immediately and we call on all council members to ensure that this matter of the utmost public interest is discussed in public.
The horrific fire is a matter of grave public interest. The public has a right to know if public policy failures contributed to this disaster. There is no justification  for behind closed doors discussions. This can only contribute to further alienation of residents who feel their voice has not been listened to.
Members of the public, especially  those affected by the fire, and broader public  must have their rights respected. The right to freedom of expression includes the right to information.
Ultimately elected representatives make decisions on behalf of their constituents and the local community.
Decisions of the council should be open to scrutiny and conveyed to the public via independent media. Secrecy is  the default position of those who seek to avoid accountability for their actions and on this occasion there is no room for anything less than complete transparency.
I would add a similar condemnation of the bar on the public attending the meeting. It is for the Council to make the necessary security arrangements to enable the meeting to go ahead with press and public in attendance - not issue a blanket ban.

Justice4Grenfell must be seen to be done. K&C are acting in defiance of calls for accountability and transparency after its failure to listen to residents in the Grenfell Action Group before the fire.

The Cabinet meeting is at 6.30pm at Kensington Town Hall.

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