As one old hack to another, may I proffer a friendly word of advice. It’s fun to snipe, but it’s even more fun to snipe at the right targets.
The golden rule of jourmalism is to check the facts. A simple phone call can often suffice.
Your piece about accountability at Wiltshire Council was permeated with inaccuracy.
Permission for the puffin crossing at Marlborough College was granted by the Highway Authority.
Permission to demolish part of an historic wall which was crucial to the project was refused by Wiltshire Coiuncil’s Eastern Planning Committee on the advice of the Conservation Officer. This decision was overturned on an Appeal by Marlboroiugh College by a non-elected Government Inspector.
The street closures for the Marlborough International Jazz Festival are applied for and granted soilely on the basis of public safety. The decision to grant or refuse is taken on the basis of the recommendations of the statutory authorities rssponsible for these issues like the Police, Highways and Health and Safety. Since most councillors lack the expertise to make such a decision, there is no doubt that this is the right process and, far from being the establishment rallying around its own, as you imply, it is the procedure followed in every such case.
Because a small number of local traders wrote opposing this decision, to ensure transparency, the issue was referred to the relevant Cabinet Member to examine whether the appropriate procedures had been followed. Indeed they had.
Responsibility for public safety at this event is entirely that of the Matlborough Arts Association.(MAA) It’s an issue that we take very seriously, providing a Risk Asessment of every aspect of the Festival. It’s not a question of shifting a bandstand somewhere else, or having a later closure. Quite simply, the MAA could not take responsibility for public safety if there were no street closure. Without it there would be no jazz festival, greatly to the disappointment of the thousands who come here from all over the country and spend vast amounts of money.
Tony Millett responds: Councillor Fogg writes that it is ‘fun to snipe’ – I was not ‘sniping’ but pointing to a serious problem that other people are very worried about.
I did not write about the College making a hole through an old wall or about public safety and the whys and wherefores of the Jazz Festival road closures – I was pointing out (if Councillor Fogg actually reads the article) that these decisions were taken by Cabinet members. He does not deny the Jazz festival road closure decision was taken by a Cabinet member. He is wrong about the ‘puffin’ decision – he can check it out here
Or he can take a look at this – I wonder how many other of the Councillor’s statements are based on poor research: