A weekly newspaper editor has hit out at “red tape” at his local council after it refused to give journalists the email addresses of election candidates.
The Wiltshire Times and sister paper the Gazette & Herald contacted Wiltshire Council ahead of the forthcoming elections on 2 May to ask for every candidates’ email address, so it could offer them the chance of a brief biography as part of its coverage.
But the authority refused to give out the email addresses, citing the Data Protection Act as the reason. It also said not all candidates had given email addresses.
He said: “Then we asked the council to send a letter out on our behalf but it said its legal department had advised against this because it would give some candidates an ‘unfair advantage’, which is plainly ridiculous.
“We pointed out that we would write to all the other candidates but it made no difference, the council seems too frightened it might upset someone.
“This is very frustrating because all we are trying to do is support and encourage local democracy but the council is too bounded by its own red tape and legal paranoia to have any common sense in this matter.
“I fail to see how any candidate could take umbrage.”
Gary added that the papers would now have to write letters to each candidate.
Some councillors have also backed the paper and called for common sense from the authority.
Labour councillor Ricky Rogers said: “It’s just a load of nonsense, as candidates we are out and about knocking on doors and would love media exposure and the authority running the elections are just getting caught up in bureaucracy trying to limit this.
“It’s making a mockery of the process and it needs a major reboot.”
A council spokesman told the papers that its official form for candidate applications only asked for an email address as an option and not all candidates had given their addresses.
He said it could not give out the addresses because it had not warned candidates it might do so.