UPDATED: Confidential memo tells shocked Wirral councillors their emails are being read by town hall bosses (From Wirral Globe)
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UPDATED: Confidential memo tells shocked Wirral councillors their emails are being read by town hall bosses
Tory councillors have reacted with fury over the vetting of emails from the public by senior local authority managers.
A “confidential note” was circulated by chief executive Graham Burgess to all council members indicating that emails could be filtered to allow council staff to reply to grievances from the public.
Mr Burgess said the move was a reaction to several offensive emails - including some making reference to the Hillsborough disaster - sent to councillors by a member of the public.
Councillor Chris Blakeley said today: “I think it is outrageous that the council should determine which emails we should receive.
“I am totally opposed to any censorship this council might want to impose – particularly on elected members. I don’t want my name added to the filter list.
“It will be my decision about whether I read emails from members of the public.”
Conservative colleague Cllr Lesley Rennie said she was appalled that emails should be vetted to "ensure councillors are only given the good news."
She said: "If any member of the public wishes to contact me on any matter at all, I want to see that email. I do not want council managers intercepting emails and deciding which I should see, and which should be kept from me.
"It's really important to me that I hear views - good and bad - about the council.
"Let's not forget, it was this kind of secrecy that whistleblower Martin Morton exposed and which successive council leaders have said would not happen again."
She added: “My colleagues and I are absolutely appalled that there could have even been a suggestion that emails from the public could be considered for filtering.”
Mr Burgess said: “I have received a number of complaints regarding the content, unacceptable tone and high volume of emails sent by [an individual] including a specific concern regarding comments about the Hillsborough memorial service held at Wallasey Town Hall.
"I view this very seriously.
"Because of the offence given by this person regarding Hillsborough, a decision was made to filter emails - and every single councillor was asked if they wanted to continue receiving them.
“This is not censorship.
"We are not stopping [him] from contacting the council and councillors who want to receive his emails will continue to do so.
"His emails are not being blocked but are instead being directed to a specific inbox so that abusive comments do not continue to cause offence.
"It goes without saying that legitimate issues or enquiries will be dealt with appropriately.”
The chief exceutive added: "The reference to Martin Morton had no relevance whatsoever – it was a misrepresentation of the facts.”
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