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Who Monitors the Monitoring Officer?

July 3, 2013

Justice For Bridlington has today sent the following open letter to the ERYC  Monitoring Officer, Matthew Buckley, asking him to explain how and why he sees fit to interfere with our communications with our elected representatives.

We look forward to his public response.

Dear Mr Buckley

Your reply to the YP article of 24th June raises many serious questions about our democracy and the apparent Officer censorship of communication between councillors and their electorate.

The fact that emails sent by Justice for Bridlington were blocked by ERYC; that those emails have not been forwarded, and address remains blocked for further communication after you became aware that ours was legitimate correspondence is deeply worrying.

  • Could you advise why our communications were blocked and returned as ‘permanent error’ and why our email address remains barred from sending further emails to councillors?
  • By what specific authority or legal right can officers access and read members’ emails.? Which officers have access to Cllr email accounts and for what reason?
  • Is the content of Councillors emails reported to others, if so to whom and why?
  • What processes are in place to check and forward  ‘spam’ filtered mail and to ensure legitimate correspondence and correspondents are not impeded?
  • Who decides which emails should be blocked, and which should be passed on to the addressee?
  • How frequently are emails and email addresses blocked in this way and for what propose?
  • Are the councillors using the @eastriding.gov.uk address made aware that their mail is censored in this way?
  • How, when emails are accessible to Officers, is the necessary councillor/resident confidentiality maintained?

Your direct advice to members, regarding our correspondence, differs significantly from your reasoning given in comments to the Yorkshire Post.

The YP article dated 24th June 2013 quoted you directly as stating;

 “The statement commits those signing it to a course of action and councillors signing up to such a statement may run the risk that they are unable to take part in discussions on these matters in the future as by signing the declaration they have predetermined their position.

This differs from your advice on 21st June to all councillors;

“Members may have received an e mail from an organisation calling itself ‘Justice for Bridlington ‘.  Could I ask Members not to respond to this e mail for now.

We are discussing an appropriate response.”

  • Why are your direct advice and your press statement so fundamentally different?
  • Was your intervention to advise councillors of what ‘appropriate response’ they should make, or that responding may cause issues with predetermination?
  • Are you aware of Section 25 of the Localism Act, and what is your understanding of that provision?
  • Was this intervention your own decision or at the request of other(s), and if so whom?
  • Who was discussing ‘an appropriate response’ and under what instruction?

As these matters relate to all East Riding residents and their elected representatives I am making this letter ‘open’ and look forward to your public response.

Tom Morris

Justice For Brid.

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