Praise be Pickles: Pity about your party activists

eric pickles- the bloggers friend; Pic courtesy


Lynne Hillan- Barnet Tory leader- Queen Canute rather than Iron Lady. Pic courtesy: Barnet Times

Normally I don’t approve of the judgements of Eric Pickles, the  communities secretary, the man Westminster jokes is so much larger than life that he can be spotted on Google Earth. However in a  blog for Conservative Home last week the scourge of local government  bureaucrats penned an article backing the idea that councils should open the doors to bloggers and citizen journalists who should be able to tweet and film  to their heart’s content. He of course cited outrageous Labour councils who had banned this. He also praised the work of Maidenhead and Windsor council .

 He wrote: ” Conservative-run Windsor and Maidenhead recently decided to allow members of the public to video local meetings. This week, I wrote to councils encouraging them to follow suit, opening up public discussions to all forms of multimedia. Citizen journalists have as much right as anyone to attend and to share their views, and council ‘monitoring officers’ shouldn’t hide behind bogus concerns about ‘data protection’ or ‘human rights’.

He goes on to describe this new freedom right back to the Blessed Margaret Thatcher who introduced the right  of the press and public to attend council meeting way back in 1960.Isn’t it then doubly ironic that tomorrow night (March 1) Barnet Council, whose citizens returned the former Tory leader to Westminster, should be doing the very thing that Eric Pickles deplores.

 This Tory controlled council has banned videos by the public of the public council meeting saying it is ” against the council’s constitution” and I am told people can be ejected if they are caught tweeting , even though councillors are free to do so.

Indeed bloggers are not welcome at all. Lynne Hillan, leader of the council,  told the Barnet Times:

“The only thing we will do is consider responsible media requests, and they are the only thing we would allow at this stage. If we had a request I would expect an officer to approach me about it. I do not think we would consider a request from bloggers . Only respectable media would be considered.”

This dinosaur attitude from a Queen Canute  is breathtaking. Her ignorance about how the modern world works is absurd. Presumably her next step as Barnet leader will be to table a motion condemning Lady Thatcher for allowing the public by law to attend council meetings.

The best riposte to her comes from the mouth of Eric Pickles himself. ” When councils make these sorts of petty decisions, at best they look foolish and out of touch; at worst they look like they have something to hide.”

 Need I say more. You can. E-mail her with your views at or phone her direct on 0208 359 2059. Her fax is: 020 889 7464.

Update: Barnet kept its word in blocking bloggers and filming at the council last night by employing some rather heavy looking security guards to limit who could get a seat to hear the council introduce cuts and higher parking. According to Mrs Angry, a blogger who did get in, they appeared to be able to overrule local police officers. See her report and pix of  the heavy bouncers employed by the Tory council on her blog at 

8 thoughts on “Praise be Pickles: Pity about your party activists

  1. You’re spot on, David. Thanks for writing this. We will test this ‘guidance’ from Lynne Hillan at the council meeting on Tuesday night. We have an anti-cuts lobby from 6pm at Hendon Town Hall, then residents (as many as can) will go inside to watch the council meeting which starts at 7pm.

    I will have copies of the DCLG guidance from local government minister Bob Neill for people to refer to as they assert their right to blog, tweet and film.

    Come and join us if you can!

    Vicki – Barnet TUC and Barnet Alliance


  2. Pingback: Barnet’s Tory council sticks up two fingers at Pickles over bloggers access | Liberal Conspiracy

  3. Pingback: Government says we can film council meetings. Get in. – Hangbitch

  4. Society for the Defence of King Canute here. I’d just like to point out that Canute sat in front of the waves to demonstrate to his over loyal followers that he was not omnipotent. Hillan cannot be a Queen Canute unless she is trying to demonstrate to her clique that she does not have the power to ban such activity.
    Ivan Pope


  5. Croydon Council does not permit recording or photographs in the Council chamber and pda’s may only be used outside the chamber so making it difficult for blogging on Council meeetings.


  6. Impressed by Ivan Pope’s stout defence of extinct Danish monarchies. Last night, however, Queen Canute did successfully demonstrate to her followers that she does not have the power to ban such activity, despite the use of her mercenary troops: see –
    Broken Barnet’s Secret Army


  7. Pingback: Bloggers are best at covering local cuts across the UK: so we're being banned | openDemocracy

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