Suck My Formaldehyde Pickled Balls – My Response


Thursday, May 29th, 2014. 11:46am

.@RTaylorUK By the way, as an ordinary member of the public, I invite you to suck my formaldehyde pickled balls. Love and kisses, etc.
It appears an ex Cambridge City Councillor sending me a message in public saying: “suck my formaldehyde pickled balls” is news.

Ex Cllr Brown’s astonishing invitation to me shows how unpleasant people can be to those entering discussion about how we run Cambridge and our wider society. I think this kind of exchange is something which puts people off having their say on questions facing the city and country. Robust debate is one thing, but insults, slurs, defamation and unsubstantiated accusations make participating in public deliberations challenging and create quite a high hurdle to participation.

Shortly after having being ousted from office by the electorate ex Cllr Sarah Brown took to Twitter last week to publish a barrage of material which it appears she felt unable to publish while a councillor, but she clearly thought appropriate to send once the electorate of Petersfield ward in Cambridge had chosen someone else to represent them. Brown explained her view saying: “being a councillor DOES prevent free and open expression of views, because a councillor is a representative of the people.” I think it is concerning if any of our councillors feel constrained and unable to freely and honestly express their views while in office. I want to know what our representatives really think and feel and not just hear from them what they think they are expected to say. I don’t want our representatives feeling constrained by what Cllr Brown appears to have considered the shackles of elected office.

Ex Cllr Sarah Brown appears to have taken the decision it was appropriate to launch her tirade despite having announced her intent to stand, as a Liberal Democrat, in the 2015 Cambridge City Council Elections.

I feel there is often a thin layer of civility, and cordiality, in our society and Brown’s outburst illustrates what lies beneath it, and what is never far from the surface.

Deciding how to respond to attacks can be difficult. I’m writing this article following the publication of the Cambridge-News article so that I can provide my views, and give readers the background to the article – which doesn’t give any indication of why Ex Cllr Brown may have been motivated to invite me to suck her “formaldehyde pickled balls” (which she has since claimed was clearly a joke, and that her balls have been burned).

I often comment on policing matters in Cambridge, and Cambridgeshire, so when Brown tweeted to say “I’m on first name terms with the police commissioner”, suggesting this would make it more likely that the police would act on evidence she has stated she holds on people she appears to take the view have committed crimes against her I thought it appropriate to draw attention to that. Suggesting preferential treatment from the police might arise as a result of knowing the Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright would be highly inappropriate for a councillor, and I thought it still an inappropriate thing for someone who had just lost an election to say, and something which could still damage the integrity of the office of councillor, and raise questions about the impartiality of the police. Brown was still technically a councillor at the time, she had hours earlier received support at the ballot box from 720 Cambridge electors, she also remained a director of TdFHUB2014 Ltd which is responsible for co-ordinating the planning for the opening three stages of the Tour de France in England in July, which includes the event’s visit to Cambridge, and as a declared prospective candidate she remained a significant public figure in the city worthy of scrutiny. Brown responded to my comments with a tweet saying “Yes, the police do know who I am”; adding the context of “They are likely to know that I have been the victim of a transphobic harassment campaign.” Following this Brown emitted the tweet which has caught the attention of the media, which in full states:

@RTaylorUK By the way, as an ordinary member of the public, I invite you to suck my formaldehyde pickled balls. Love and kisses, etc.

Next Brown asked said: “You’re a kipper, aren’t you?”. I took “kipper” to be a reference to the United Kingdom Independence Party and responded: “I’m not a member of a political party. I do sometimes vote for them, or their candidates, if I have a preference between them.”

I had recently been asked on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire if I had voted for UKIP and I had answered the question openly and honestly, as I always try and do, and said that I had done so in the elections for members of the European Parliament.

Next Brown asked me: “Where do you stand on shooting gays, oh kippery one?”. Here I was left with a dilemma; it appeared Brown’s behaviour was becoming trollish; there was what appeared to me to be an attempt to prompt me into writing something which, particularly in light of the constraints of the medium of Twitter, could be used to mis-represent my views.

The question, I expect relates to a reported statement by a UKIP candidate who it has been widely reported wrote:

“I rather wonder if we shot one “poofter” (GBLT whatevers), whether the next 99 would decide on balance, that they weren’t after-all? We might then conclude that it’s not a matter of genetics, but rather more a matter of education.”

I decided to answer Ex Cllr Brown’s question simply and directly; responding to the question of “Where do you stand on shooting gays ” with “Same as my views on shooting any human”. Brown described that response as equivocal so I expanded on it to say: “Very rarely justifiable to shoot anyone. In some cases eg. by police if only&last,opt to protect others from injury, defensible.”; invited to expand further by another Twitter user I added “I would not support shooting anyone on the grounds they are “different”. Obviously. Doesn’t need to be said.”

Ex Cllr Brown then published a series of Tweets seeking to publicise my comments to her followers including:

““@RTaylorUK: @auntysarah Very rarely justifiable to shoot anyone. In some cases”: thanks for clarifying your position on shooting gays, Dick”

and:

“UKIP supporter @RTaylorUK suggests it would be acceptable to shoot gays, “to prevent greater harm”.”

The latter is, out of context, quite clearly defamatory in that a reasonable person might read that, and in the absence of any additional information interpret as meaning I think it acceptable to shoot gay people because they are gay and that the purpose of shooting them would be to prevent greater harm arising from a result of behaviour related to their being gay. The tweet gained a number of retweets, largely from Ex Cllr Brown’s supporters, so readers will have encountered it without context.

As I understand it the tweet doesn’t amount to legally actionable defamation because it is true. I do think it is acceptable to shoot gay people, and indeed anyone, when it is proportional to do so, in the interests of preventing greater harm. I support the police having access to firearms and the country having armed forces. I phrase my comments as I do because I think it is very important that everyone is treated equitably by the state, particularly by the police, irrespective of factors such as sexuality, age, being a traveller, being a mother etc. . I have lobbied extensively against the police treating certain groups of people differently, on the grounds of, as the police put it, sensitivities.

Brown published a slightly more tangential tweet arising from the exchange; again apparently seeking to defame and discredit (see the thread):

Local Citizen Journalist, @RTaylorUK, suggests he would harass member of the public on Twitter. @TheAlanSmith

My comments on Ex Cllr Brown’s performance during her time as a councillor have always been focused on her actions in public office, and never targeted at her in a personal manner. My primary substantive comments on her performance which I recall have been on the subject of the publication of planning notices, and Brown’s admitted failure, or even refusal, to read formally submitted planning objections. I have also commented on Cllr Brown’s apparent consideration of being a councillor as a job. We have volunteer councillors, paid an allowance in lieu of a complex and expensive to administer expenses scheme and I want to retain that. I wonder if treating the role of representative as a job, and following the election results considering she had lost a job, was a factor in prompting her outburst.

I never contacted Cllr Brown personally and privately; while we have exchanged a few words in person during Cllr Brown’s time in office, all our substantive exchanges have occurred in public on Twitter, and all my comments on Cllr Brown’s performance as a councillor have been made openly on my website or on Twitter.

Cllr Brown has described her behaviour as fun and cathartic writing:

@RTaylorUK Maybe I’ll not stand next year. This is more fun.”

and the Cambridge News reporting:

“Yesterday Ms Brown said her attack on Richard Taylor had been the result of “catharsis mixed with disappointment”

One of those who retweeted Ex Cllr Brown’s comments was Cambridge resident MJ Black, who when asked to explain why they thought the re-tweet was reasonable responded:

“*pats head* aww I’m sowwie hun, are you offended? Well tough, I thought it was funny.”

I don’t think it is appropriate to launch, or propagate, attacks on people because you are disappointed, in need of a purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, or indeed simply think such behaviour is funny.

It is clear from The Cambridge News article and a blog post she has written that she is acutely aware of the impact that launching unwarranted personal attacks on people can have on them; which makes it all the more incomprehensible that she judges it reasonable to carry out, and encourage, similar behaviour herself. From my personal point of view while responding to this unexpected exchange has been time consuming and I am concerned about the impact on my reputation among those who don’t look carefully at the published material, it has not been as distressing as other attacks I have received while campaigning for a more open, democratic, fair and just society. In part this is as I’m now used to being attacked, insulted and defamed as a result of participating in public debate; it is also because Cllr Brown is not someone in a position of power over me.

The Cambridge News article reporting Cllr Brown’s ‘suck my formaldehyde pickled balls’ comment directed towards me also reports on a campaign of transphobic abuse Brown has received. While the news article describes the abuse as being part of “a separate campaign of online harassment” I am concerned by the implication here that I was involved in any “campaign or online harassment” and I think that casual, uncritical, readers may not appreciate that. Ex Cllr Brown has tweeted:

The article is actually grossly unfair on Richard by falsely linking him with the harassment.”

and:

Richard Taylor has never been transphobic to me.

I have noticed that as I am writing this the Cambridge News have removed the public comments section from their article. One of the comments I spotted on the piece earlier described me as “punchable” and attributed comments to me, on the performance of councillors, that I have not made. This illustrates my point about the unpleasant tone of public discourse which I think deters people from participation.

If the comments on the Cambridge News were still live I would add a link to this article; to offer my detailed response. I will tweet the paper asking them to clarify that Ex Cllr Brown’s invitation for me to suck her formaldehyde pickled balls was completely unrelated to the reported campaign of harassment and to link to this article.

22 comments/updates on “Suck My Formaldehyde Pickled Balls – My Response

  1. Cab Davidson

    I have a lot of respect for what you do to publicise whats happening on the political scene in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire. Its useful; I once said to a Councillor who was moaning about you that if we didn’t have you we’d probably want to invent you. I think that your work is good, even where I don’t agree with you (e.g. potatogate!).

    But I also think that you sometimes get peoples hackles up. You know this is true. You also know that when someone is stressed, like for example at election time after a concerted campaign of abuse directed against them, they might bite back a bit harder than they otherwise would.

    I suspect Sarah will read your blog post as you’ve no doubt read hers. Can I request (as a relative stranger with a great deal of respect for what you both do) that each of you steps back from the precipice – I don’t think either of you have anything to gain from this exchange. I think that those of us who follow political events in this city would all take it as a favour if you both did this.

    1. Jon

      @Cab I don’t know either of the parties, I’m just an occasional reader of this blog and a Cambridge resident. On the evidence presented here, it’s quite unfair to present this as six of one and half a dozen of the other.

      If Richard’s perfectly legitimate and useful activities as a citizen journalist ‘get people’s hackles up’ he shouldn’t feel he needs to apologise or restrict those activities in order to keep them happy. That applies if the hackles are up because people simply don’t like his arguments or methods, but much more so if the hackles are those of elected representatives and they are raised because Richard has made substantive criticisms of work carried out in office. If he has gratuitously insulted or vexatiously inconvenienced anyone, that’s a different matter, but no one seems to be saying that he has.

      Richard’s response here is not in any way an aggressive retaliation that threatens a cycle of escalation — he has done two things: (1) provide context for comments that have been taken out of context in a way that is seriously defamatory, and (2) put on record what can happen when a citizen tries to take part in the democratic process.

  2. Justin

    My issue with Sarah Brown is not the fact that she used her free speech,* its the fact that she shows off her yacht. At a time when workers are being hit by austerity and the latest article by Taylor shows that homeless people are being turned away from Jimmy’s, meanwhile Brown only a week ago showed pictures of her yacht. My sympathy for her when she was getting dodgy messages waned a little at that point.

    * Sarah Brown should be allowed her free speech anytime, but its not so much a question of not having free speech, its a case of the fact that when you’re a Councillor, its more important to keep that speech political, not resort to apolitical point scoring. Anyway, I wish her well in trying to regain her seat next year. It won’t be easy, 1. the Lib Dems are still slaves to the Tories, 2. The Lib Dems could either split (I’m told by a former Lib Dem there is the existence of the Social Liberal forum), or the Lib Dems continue to be slaves to the Tories and Nick clegg, having lost his seat next year becomes a Tory Lord in the HL.

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    Brown has described her usual Yacht both as being very small

    and as a #MassiveYacht

    Sailing is not necessarily expensive and elitist, it all depends how you do it. I sail too from time to time. Me on the Norfolk Broads:

    Richard Taylor on a Norfolk broads sailing boat

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    It appears the publicity arising from Ex Cllr Brown’s colourful use of language has prompted a post from cartertheblogger on the “Sometimes, it’s just a cigar” blog which raises a number of points I feel I ought to respond to.

    Council Officers Playing at Policing

    It’s great to see that there is a substantive policy point being discussed. One of the big things I think the public sector in this country gets wrong, and wastes a lot of money on, is duplication of services and activities by multiple public bodies. If an ex-councillor’s invitation to me to suck her formaldehyde pickled balls results in more people thinking about such questions that’s something positive.

    One area where I’ve drawn particular attention to one body encroaching on the role of others is in relation to the Cambridge City Council “anti-social behaviour team”; which has been carrying out functions which I think would be best left to the courts (dealing with offenders) and the police.

    In terms of the policing activities this is actually an area where I, and those councillors who have shared my views, have had quite some success, and the council has over the last few years reduced the extent of their officers’ forays into policing and as a result the council have updated their now clear guidance on what to report to them, and what to report to the police.

    In the past there have been problems such as the police and council encouraging reports of anti-social behaviour, street drinking, aggressive begging to be made via the council which resulted in the police not being aware of them. The council has also in the past requested reports of motoring offences, drug dealing and some violent crimes be made not to the police but its “anti-social behaviour team”. The articles on this subject on my site are from 2010 and 2011; my, and others’ campaigning has led to improvements since then.

    cartertheblogger quoted from one of my articles where I had written:

    Why have we got city council officers playing at being police officers and getting involved in investigating and seeking evidence of a serious crime such as domestic assault? I think this is part of a wider problem of council officers straying into policing territory.

    cartertheblogger argues not against the point I made, but against something cartertheblogger suggests I am saying, namely that I am arguing against the council working with other agencies. I am not arguing against the council working closely with the police at all. What I want to see is the council doing its job, and the police doing theirs, and the two groups bodies together where necessary.

    cartertheblogger also notes that local government does have a “policing” style role, and associated powers, in areas such as trading standards and environmental health and suggests that my opposition to council officers straying into policing tertiary means I also oppose that. I don’t oppose councils having a regulatory role in these areas.

    I have raised concerns about Cambridge City Council officers spying on punting. Where a council’s regulatory work requires the use of policing powers, for example to conduct covert surveillance, or to force entry to property, these are things I think the council ought do in-conjunction with the police and with the police being those responsible for the use of policing powers.

    Suggestion Development Proposals from the Council ought not Require Planning Permission

    cartertheblogger wrongly suggests I want to see councils exempted from planning law. This is not the case. The quote used to support this assertion relates to a specific petty exchange between officers from different parts of the council relating to details of the noticeboards on the Guildhall. I support the council requiring planning permission for developments, and in fact I have raised questions where this has not happened in relation to the Cantrill windmill on Midsummer Common.

    Openness of Planning Application Information

    cartertheblogger quotes my article from June 2010 titled Cambridge City Council Upgrades Online Planning System in which I wrote:

    Why is the council being so restrictive and controlling in relation to re-use and representing the information? Why is the council opposed for example to planning applications being viewed in Google Maps; or for lists of planning applications being provided on third party sites? Could the council release its information, including the detailed geographical location data, in a free and open format?

    cartertheblogger points readers to the terms and conditions for Google Maps. I can’t see the relevance of those. There’s nothing in the terms stopping anyone using Google Maps or other services to plot the location of planning applications. This was something I did myself on this site before the council “upgraded” its planning system and made the information harder to obtain.

    I am then accused of asking a question which is “nakedly self-interested”; due to my work with mySociety.

    I note I asked question quoted in June 2010 but did not do any paid work for mySociety until January 2014.

    I am open about what I do; I publish lots of information about my activities on my website; and it is that openness which enables commentary such as that from cartertheblogger.

    I am not in a position of management or control at mySociety; I am not a member of staff, I have volunteered for them over a number of years and recently have been doing some paid work (less than £5,000 worth to-date).

    Junction Planning

    cartertheblogger quotes from my November 2012 article on Development Proposed Between Milton Road and Woodhead Drive (an article in which I declare an interest as a near-by resident, in the same way as a councillor might consider it appropriate to). The section cartertheblogger takes out for comment is:

    it appears crazy to me that we are relying on developers to come up with a design for such a sensitive area and then leaving the councillors to approve it or not,

    and suggests that this means: “Taylor doesn’t understand development control – it is precisely the council’s job to decide the application before it, not the one they wish they’d received.”

    The first point to make in response to this is the quoted comment refers specifically to the design of the junction; this is on publicly owned highways land. In that context I stand by my comments. I would rather see County Council highways officers designing junctions, not developers. There is further discussion on this point in the article.

    I have proposed, in my 2012 local plan submission, and in other places that we ought take a more proactive approach to planning. The way we run our society isn’t set in stone. Often when suggesting changes I’m met with the retort that I clearly haven’t understood a system if I am proposing changes to it, but that is not the case.

    cartertheblogger concludes the article by saying :

    It’s I struggle to contemplate standing for council in my future – I couldn’t be bothered being polite to the likes of Taylor.

    That doesn’t quite make sense, and it looks as if there’s a few words out of place, or missing, but I think it shows cartertheblogger would be unsuitable as a councillor. I think it’s important elected representatives listen politely to everyone, but equally its important that they give each representation appropriate weight and take a rational judgement after having done their best to inform themselves fully.

    cartertheblogger has described my articles as: “pompous and overly long and tedious rants that Taylor publishes”. I get a mixture of positive and negative feedback in relation to what I write, and I do change things in light of comments. In terms of length I do make my output available in 140 character or less snippets over Twitter for those who want it short and snappy; I also try to get the key points into the first couple of sentences, to cater for those who don’t want to read a full article. I get far more correspondence asking for me to publish more material than I do from those asking for less. As for tedious, well some people like reading it, and I like writing it.

    cartertheblogger also wrongly states that I have “taken offence” in response to Ex Cllr Brown’s invitation to suck her formaldehyde pickled balls, and her follow-up tweets. I implied the invitation was unpleasant, and the tirade as a whole, inappropriate, but never said I was offended.

    Ex Cllr Brown has responded:

    I think it is right that there are different rules on the disclosure of interests for elected representatives than we have for the general population; though I do think it’s odd that we don’t require candidates to declare their interests, we only found out about them a few weeks after they win election.

    I don’t think anyone writing an article, or commenting on the performance of their councils, ought be required to fill in a form declaring their interests.

    While I don’t think it ought be required I think I am extremely open about who I am and what I do. There is a list of what I’m currently doing on the front page of my website and also a link to my CV.

    It appears that the anonymous blogger who wrote the article I am responding to may be Bendigeidfran (@IanCogg) on Twitter. (The Bendigeidfran (@IanCogg) profile links to the http://sometimesitsjustacigar.wordpress.com/ blog; though that blog is written by a team of people; and the presence of a URL in a Twitter profile is no assurance of ownership or authorship.) It is ironic that an anonymous blogger, about whom very little can be gleaned from their blog, is challenging me about how much I am publishing about myself when I make so much information available, write under my real name and carry out my campaigning in person as well as online. I do though support the ability to make anonymous contributions to public debate; anonymity can be important to allow people who might otherwise stay silent to enter into discussions. I’ve written anonymously myself while a student at universities due, in part, to the restrictions on freedom of speech being even greater within such institutions than they within our society as a whole.

    Ian Cogg has written:

    I note mySociety’s website’s front page contains a “hire us” section; so the fact they do commercial work is made clear; and it is possible to click through to see examples of what they have done for councils.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      I submitted the below as a comment to the “The perils of politics article” on the “Sometimes, it’s just a cigar” blog. The comment disappeared in to the ether. Perhaps it is awaiting moderation? I have reproduced it here:

      I’ve responded in detail at:

      http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/formaldehyde-pickled-balls.html#comment-98897

      In summeary:

      • One of the big things I think the public sector in this country gets wrong, and wastes a lot of money on, is duplication of services and activities by multiple public bodies. I do not oppose councils working closely with the police. I do oppose council officers doing work which I think ought be done by the police; and in particular I think it’s problematic when the council encourages people to report crimes to them, rather than the police. This latter point is one I campaigned on, and Cambridge City Council has changed its stance since the articles quoted which are from 2010 and 2011.
      • The quote used to support the erroneous assertion I want to see councils exempted from planning law relates to a specific petty exchange between officers from different parts of the council relating to details of the noticeboards on the Guildhall. I support the council requiring planning permission for developments, and in fact I have raised questions where this has not happened.
      • I am open about what I do; I publish lots of information about my activities on my website; and it is that openness which has enabled the commentary on potential conflicts of interest raised in this article. The question quoted was asked in June 2010 and I did not do any paid work for mySociety until January 2014. I was not seeking any personal financial gain by writing about changes to Cambridge City Council’s online planning system. I simply want to live in a city where civic decisions are made in an open and transparent manner and I want it to be as easy as possible for people to find out about upcoming decisions which could affect them and which they might be interested in commenting on.
      • The quote “it appears crazy to me that we are relying on developers to come up with a design” relates specifically to the design of a road junction; and in that context I stand by my view. It is not reasonable to extrapolate from my simply expressing that view to asserting I do not understand “development control” (planning). I make no claims to be an expert; but I am an interested and engaged citizen; I’ve observed hundred of planning decisions being made, and have commented on many of them on my website. I’ve made comments both on specific applications, and on matters of planning policy, including a representation to the current process of renewing Cambridge’s local plan.
  5. Richard Taylor Article author

    Brown has today emitted a barrage of Tweets suggesting that I have been looking at her chest and cleavage during council meetings:

    At Cambridge City Council the public gallery is a balcony. Members of the public wishing to see many Councillors who sit under the balcony have to hang over it to do so as illustrated by the following photo from Puffles2010

    Over the last couple of years I have almost always observed council meetings from the press desk on the floor of the chamber as this gives a better view, enables better video footage and provides access to power and a desk. I have only used the public gallery in the last few years on occasions where I have arrived late and felt it was more polite, and less disruptive, to enter the public gallery than to enter the floor of the chamber and sit at the press desk. There was also an occasion, or two, when the press desk was full. Once when Puffles2010 and Chris Havergal took up the seats on it, and on another occasion another reporter accompanied Chris Havergal.

    Where Brown has made a substantive point I have responded to it. Here we have an unsubstantiated and baseless slur which I don’t think warrants a response. I think it’s worth recording though. Councillors can be hostile to those wishing to observe and comment on what they get up to; and these comments from Brown show one form that hostility can take.

    I note Brown has, as noted in the original article, described her view of what she is doing as: “fun and cathartic”, and her comments should be viewed in that context. It appears that to an extent she is trolling for her own entertainment. I do not think her behaviour is reasonable or acceptable.

  6. Bob

    This really is a very silly thread but I would make one point. I think richard should be in the gallery with the rest of us, rather than at the press desk. He is not press.

    I was recently at a county council meeting where he was allowed to film from the floor of the chamber whilst poor plebs like me had to sit in the public gallery and strain to see and hear what was going on. Richard should have no special privileges and should film from where the rest of the public have to sit.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Bob,

      I am very careful not to seek, or avail myself of, any special privileges.

      I have challenged the rules on access to the press desks at the County and City Councils, and my lobbying and activism has changed practices. (See this FOI request for example). Press desks at both councils are now available to anyone who wishes to use them to report on proceedings at the meetings on a first come first served basis. I am not the only person to use them to tweet blog and film; Anthony Carpen has done so too at the city council and I have seen a campaigner (on pavement maintenance) using the access, and facilities, at the County Council alongside me.

      I have previously written:

      At one meeting the then vice-Chair of the council, ex councillor John Powley wrongly told me the council maintains a list of accredited media who are given exclusive access to the chairs and desks at the back of the council chamber. Since ignoring ex Cllr Powely I have experienced no subsequent problems using the furniture.

      I think the County Council’s public gallery is terrible, it is very hard to follow proceedings from there. The city council’s is also terrifying in terms of design and meetings can only be effectively followed by sitting on the front row and leaning over the edge.

      I would like to see anyone permitted to observe from the floor of the chambers, behind the councillors, when there is space however councillors keep this as a privilege for their guests and for those ex-councillors they have made “Honorary Councillors”, and so are very protective of this perk. I think this is a silly arrangement.

      I was once invited to a Cambridgeshire County Council meeting as the guest of my County Councillor; I have reported on that at:

      http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/cambridgeshire-county-council-october-2010.html

    2. Jon

      @Bob

      If there is, in fact, a distinction between a press area and a public gallery, I see no reason not to recognise people like Richard as journalists — he reports on local politics in Cambridge in much more detail than anyone else.

  7. Bob

    Thanks for the reply richard. I do hope that broadcasts will soon be live streamed by the council so those of us who live well outside the City can hear and see what is going on without having to travel for what is now a poor experience.

    1. Bob

      Jon, at Shire Hall there is a huge difference between the council chamber where the press can sit and the public gallery, which has a restricted view and is often difficult to hear what is being said. Richard is not a journalist. What happens if we all turn up and say we want to film? Would we all be allowed in the chamber? I appreciate the reports Richard gives through this blog but he is not an accredited journalist and should not be given special privileges. The answer is for proceedings to be live streamed and as a minimum, a voting screen fitted in the public gallery. There also needs to be access and exit from the public gallery by stairs rather than be forced to use a lift. Visit a council meeting at Shire Hall and you’ll understand what I’m getting at.

    2. Richard Taylor Article author

      No-one is an accredited journalist for the purposes of Cambridge City Council; or Cambridgeshire County Council meetings. There is no accreditation system for the meetings.

      Anyone turning up to film either council would be able to do so from the press desks at either council – should there be space. As I have said I do not get any special treatment.

      I agree with the suggestions that there ought be access by stairs to the County Council gallery and the voting screen ought be repeated.

      I note that when I’ve visited the Royal Courts of Justice many, if not all, the public galleries are out of use; and the public are allowed to sit at the back of the courts. If public galleries are largely unused it gets harder to justify spending on them when better public access can be achieved by people sitting at the back of the chamber.

  8. Richard Taylor Article author

    Unprompted unfounded insinuations have recurred

    My primary thought is that perhaps the level of unpleasantness which arises from entering discussion about how we run our society might well explain why we end up with many elected representatives who are so aloof and uncommunicative – perhaps they’ve given up engaging with others as a result of the difficulty in dealing with attacks.

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