AddThis SmartLayers

Council sets up web page to ‘put record straight’

A council in Kent has created a webpage dedicated to full press statements that they fear have been cut or taken out of context by local press.

Medway Council set up For the Record following a story that appeared in the Medway Messenger and on BBC radio.

The story related to emergency planning for residents living near a £1bn liquid gas plant in the Isle of Grain.

However Messenger editor Bob Bounds told HTFP he was surprised by the council’s move and branded it an “over the top” reaction.

The Messenger – part of the Kent Messenger group – had claimed 2,000 villagers would have no escape route if there was a disaster at the gas plant.

They had used a paragraph from a full press statement from the council which had been issued in response to a resident’s complaint  about the emergency evacuation plan for the village.

Said Bob: “We were coming up to deadline, everything had been editied within an inch of its life, we had lots more information from opponents.

“The next day we put the full story, including the full statement on the website, as well as in the newspaper on the Monday.”

The village evacuation plan pinpointed just one escape road which went within yards of one of the world’s biggest gas tanks.

The council, which has said that it has a good relationship with the newspaper, has since published an updated emergency plan.

Media manager John Staples said the For the Record Page will be a permanent feature on Medway Council’s website so that residents will be able to compare what was reported, or broadcast, with what was issued by Medway Council on controversial topics.

Said John: “The webpage will publish the full press statements it has given to the media on specfic stories if they have subsequently been chopped or altered and their meaning substantially changed when broadcast or published.”