Publicly public petition plight
SIR – Q: When is a petition presented to a local council deemed not to be in the public domain? A: When it is commissioned and signed by volunteers working for said council and contains potentially defamatory insinuations against other local residents. Ha
SIR - Q: When is a petition presented to a local council deemed not to be in the public domain?
A: When it is commissioned and signed by volunteers working for said council and contains potentially defamatory insinuations against other local residents.
Harpenden Town Council has refused public access to a petition presented to its Environment Committee, open to members of the public, on February 10, 2010.
Minutes of the meeting record the wording and state: "Members were pleased to receive the petition and note its contents."
You may also want to watch:
A request to check the wording of the petition against the wording of the minutes and verify the signatures has been refused, quoting potential breach of the Data Protection Act.
A further request has also been refused after advice was taken from the district council's head of legal services.
- 1 May 17: What can open when COVID-19 lockdown rules ease
- 2 Dirty Dancing and The Greatest Showman among St Albans open-air cinema screenings
- 3 Five Guys coming to St Albans
- 4 What are the district's best pub gardens to visit from April 12?
- 5 Author explores city's hidden history
- 6 Mental Health Awareness Week: Easing children’s worries and fears after lockdown
- 7 Council elections: who are St Albans Conservative candidates?
- 8 Whipsnade Zoo to celebrate 90th birthday with fun family activities
- 9 Olympic hopeful Raissa Vickery benefits from 948 Sports Foundation help
- 10 Council elections: who are St Albans Liberal Democrat candidates?
Both public bodies have, in my opinion, misdirected themselves over the fundamental principles and purpose of the Act.
A petition presented to a local council for discussion in open session of a council meeting is de facto a public document.
If those who signed had wanted to conceal their identities they could have written anonymous letters or lobbied their councillors in the usual way.
After a short absence the culture of secrecy appears to have returned to Harpenden Town Council, to the extent that the "vociferous few objectors" must be wondering if the petition was actually orchestrated by one or more of the councillors in the first place.
East Common, Harpenden