So news that English Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, yesterday when warning that freedom of speech and independent journalism were under attack in local government, following local residents being threatened with arrest for filming and reporting meetings is interesting because how do we react?.
He then took the opportunity to point out that the Welsh government had “rebuffed” the suggestion that the same approach should be taken to open up council meetings in Wales as is being pushed by himself in England in England
Pickles is right to criticise the Welsh Assembly Government for not taking action but he is wrong to do so when issuing plans for England.
It looks like he believes that he somehow he has still some power over this issue in Wales and the press release issued by HMC seems to suggest this
In a letter to Pickles his Welsh counterpart Lesley Griffiths says it was ...
'entirely inappropriate' for Mr Pickles to intervene on a devolved matter; that it was 'discourteous' to make the letter public and that it was an 'extremely surprising and totally unacceptable interference by the UK Government in the Welsh political sphere.'
She has a point. If Pickles made the criticism In parliament to a Labour questioner asking him to act quicker on this issue then it would be OK. but for a Minister to criticise a devolved power is wrong.
We do not see English Ministers telling their counterparts in Scotland how to conduct themselves and yet in Wales (even when their criticism is valid) they behave like colonial masters interfering in the local government.
If there is to be criticism by the Tories of the Welsh Assembly Government on blocking of the democratic rights of local residents being threatened with arrest for filming and reporting meetings should it not be coming from their leader in the Assembly or even the Welsh Secretary and not from a Minister who has no responsibility here even though he thinks he has.