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Can I get a copy of a letter read out by Chair during a meeting?

0 votes
A letter was read out by the Chairman of the PC. He is now saying that a copy of this email was sent to his private email address and cannot give out a copy to me as requested. This seems to contradict the situation of making the correspondence public in the first place. I'd appreciate your expert advise.
asked by (1.9k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
If it is the 'business' of a public body then it is subject to public access.

That'll learn him to have a dotgov email account rather than using a personal email account for official business.
Doesn't matter if it is a 'personal' email account, if it's official business of the PC then it is subject to disclosure.
answered by (4.9k points)
Thank you for this clear answer.
0 votes
It seems that the chair is manipulating his interpretation of the fantasised "rules". It is of course ideal that all communication with the council goes via the clerk (letters or electronic). This should not preclude members of the public communicating with councillors on a one to one basis. Now it would appear that whether the communication was received in the chair's personal email system is not the criteria for sharing the email but the subject matter of the email. If the chair has read it out at a PC meeting then it is safe to assume that it is a matter for consideration or comment by council. As such, then councillors should have access to the email if they so request  (redacts made and shown where required). It is an attack on councillors integrity and a questioning their adherence to the required principles of office to not allow them to see the email if they so request.
answered by (8.9k points)
Thank you so much for your logical answer. Presumably this would apply if a Parishioner asked to see the letter too?
We are talking about council business and the rights of councillors to information upon which they are called in judgement. To allow a parishioner to see a copy of the letter then it would require the permission of the sender to make it public and that decision does not fall within the council's remit. Communication within council members and council business is bound under the code of conduct and the integrity of members. The public have no such constraints placed on them.
0 votes
Depending upon the content of the letter, explicit consent might be required under GDPR from the author for the chairman to share it, including reading it out at a PC meeting.
answered by (32.8k points)
We had a very similar position and there were attempts to suppress the information and threats to get the Police involved
Various suggestions were made as to how to prevent the public accessing the information and the Clerk remained silent even though what was being suggested was illegal
As I understand it the letter was read out in full, to my mind what the Chair should have said was that someone had contacted them about a particular issue
We often get redacted correspondence as part of the supporting papers
Either the contents of the letter are in the public domain or the PC breached GDPR by not going into closed session
What actual part of the GDP regs would preclude councillor (or public) access to an official correspondence received by a PC?

GDP regs are not the bogeyman that should be quoted as a blanket excuse for non compliance neither should everyone be 'afraid' when GDPR is quoted.
There may be elements of a correspondence that might require redaction if the author has specifically stated that anonymity should be maintained but this would be the exception rather than the rule.

Unless the subject or the author specifically require anonymity then the entire correspondence should be open access.

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