Last week I tried to add our forthcoming UKIP EU Public Meeting to the events page of the SHBC website.
Having submitted the form for their approval I received an email from the Media and Marketing Manager saying that “Due to the specific political nature of the event we have made a decision to not add your event because, as a public body, we are prohibited from promoting individual political organisations”.
I was disappointed for several reasons as I outlined to SHBC in my response;
Thank you for your reply, although I am very disappointed that SHBC should choose to treat important opportunities like this in such a way.
I don’t accept your contention that by listing our event on your web site you are, by implication, endorsing it. I note for instance that you have a listing for Roy “Chubby” Brown in August – are you therefore saying that by allowing his listing, SHBC are happy to endorse and promote his extremely offensive and unpleasant attitudes? I sincerely hope not.
I would be willing to bet that considerably more people in the Borough are interested in hearing about the upcoming European elections than listening to what Mr “Chubby” Brown has to say.
In any case, it would be very easy to amend your terms and conditions to simply state that SHBC does not endorse any of the listings contained and thereby make it clear that you are not ‘promoting’ any political party or event.
Surely the Borough Council has a responsibility to the public; to advise them of where they can obtain information that will assist them in making informed choices. The upcoming elections and their result will have significant ramifications for the whole of the UK. The better informed people are about the choices they have, the more they will be able to make the right choice for them – by refusing to allow our event to be listed you are potentially denying people that opportunity.
There is much disquiet about politics and politicians at the moment and whenever any party chooses to stage an event, to engage the electorate face to face and answer the public’s concerns this should be supported, surely? Again by not listing our event that opportunity is potentially lost to the detriment of all political parties both local and national.
I assume, since you’ve not had cause in the past to add a disclaimer about what events you will and will not promote, that no other local political party has requested a listing on your site. Perhaps if you allow us to list our event this will encourage others to do the same and thereby promote a healthy political discussion within the Borough.
Politics and political decisions impact every aspect of people’s lives and yet it is incredibly difficult to get most members of the public to engage in the political process, as the 26% turn-out at the last County Council elections demonstrated. We will continue to publicise our event around the borough in whatever ways we can, to give as many people as possible in Surrey Heath the opportunity to find out more about the EU, about UKIP and about how important politics is to them, regardless of their political outlook.