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Council applauded for fighting 'gag'

A local newspaper has applauded Gloucestershire County Council for standing up for free speech after it rejected a ‘gagging clause’ in a new proposed constitution.

Had Clause 15 been given the go-ahead, council officers would have been allowed to use their discretion to decide what councillors were allowed to disclose to the press and public and what they were not – something which The Citizen says would have fired a fatal shot into the heart of democracy.

Editor Ian Mean said that although he felt the paid officers on the council could be trusted, they shouldn’t be be allowed to decide what should be in the public domain and he was pleased the councillors had seen sense.

He said: “There are already rules regarding what can and cannot be disclosed when it comes to council business and newspapers respect those rules.

“But to set in stone a constitutional right for officers to command councillors to keep something secret is a step too far.

“This newspaper has always prided itself on exposing scandal and scrutinising the performance of the elected and non-elected members of councils.

“Clause 15 would not have stopped us but it would have prevented councillors from raising areas of concern with the media – a right which should never be diminished.”

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