We have become used to Surrey County Council ignoring the legitimate concerns of library users across Surrey over their controversial library plans but yesterday’s move to enforce a Council wide block on emails from SLAM’s chair and Surrey resident, Mike Alsop, amounts to an entirely unacceptable abuse of power.
Mike has been sending a series of one or two line emails to every Councillor every two or three days over the past two weeks in the run up to today’s full Council meeting, each highlighting a problem with the Council’s volunteer-run library scheme – they are characterized by their courtesy and brevity.
Yesterday, Mike received a formal letter from Simon Pollock, Head of Customer Service, insisting that Mike’s emails had “become unreasonable and unacceptable to a number of your targeted recipients.”
Surrey County Councillors also received an email from “Central Services” telling them that all emails from Mike Alsop would automatically be sent to JUNK MAIL before being seen by any Councillor, including his own Councillor.
We have received support from a number of opposition Councillors on this issue and some have lodged a protest against the illegitimate censorship of a Surrey resident.
By contrast, when confronted today at County Hall during the lunchtime break of the full Council meeting, SCC leader, David Hodge, told Mike that it was “nothing personal” but refused to apologise and would not commit to requesting that the block be overturned, effectively removing the right for Mike to contact even his own Councillor.
The act of deliberately gagging an elected representative of a legitimate and Council-recognised group of library users is draconian and undemocratic, and one more example of bad government that is becoming the hallmark of David Hodge’s administration.
We have written to SCC CEO, David McNulty, requesting the names of Councillors that authorised this action so that we can properly seek redress. We are also seeking advice on the legitimacy and legality of what SCC has done and will be taking appropriate action.
More to follow…