Public Affairs, Council.. Chris Huhne

The Council Meeting
So for this semester we've been introduced to public affairs. Last week we were encouraged to go to a council meeting in Winchester for the city council public forum. The meeting was held in the Guildhall, I was very impressed with the interior it was very modern, not what I had expected. I tried my best to get the gist of what was going on.

17 councillors (yes I did try and count so this may not be exact) were sat around a table. They all had microphones, again I was impressed!
Oh and there was a reporter from the Hampshire Chronicle, Andrew Napier. He was sat on a separate table with water and sweets! What a luxury!

The chairmen introduced his self to us and asked if we were studying politics of course we corrected him here. I did feel a bit out of place to be honest. Politics has never been my 'thing'.

The reporter for The Chronicle did manage to get 4/5 stories from this meeting. I stayed for a while but not the whole night I think it lasted for four hours. The main issues that were discussed whilst I was there was about parking and the market. Obviously both these topics will be in the public interest for the local residents so I can see how the reporter used these topics to produce a story.
All in all the evening was ok, the councillors did have a few disputes among them, this seemed to spice things up a bit.

Here's some brief notes to introduce the public affairs module.
County council are the most powerful.
Hampshire County Council control 1.8 billion
Winchester city council- 12 million
Unitary authority are single tier councils. Southampton county council is unitary.
Two tier systems are for district councils- Winchester city

Can I report on council meetings?So I was sat in this Winchester city council meeting last week and I took various amounts of note taking. I took a lot of quotes from the councillors. As you can see this is the first time I have blogged about it as I wasn't too sure what I could and couldn't say.
And the answer is.. Yes you can report anything from council meetings as Journalists have qualified privilege. The defamation act 1996 allows journalists to report from council meetings. You can take quotes but if the quote is defamatory you must allow the person a right to defend themselves.
Basically if a councillor asks us are you going to report this? We tell them yes we can as the defamatory act 1996 allows me to. I'm pretty sure you will know more about this than the councillor will so that should sort out that issue.

The Local Conservative MP for Winchester and Chandlers Ford is Steve Brian.  Here is his website

The MP for Eastleigh is Chris Huhne. He was also former cabinet minister.

A big story in the news today, Chris Huhme has resigned as cabinet minister after learning he was charged with perverting the course of Justice over a 2003 speeding penalty fine. 
Here's the story from the BBC:
Chris Huhne is the Local Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh. He was elected as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change following the 2010 election.
If Chris Huhne is found guilty it will be impossible for him to remain MP for Eastleigh.
There will have to be a by-election if this does happen and this might put strain on the Coalition.

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