Dear MPs and elected officials: Ignoring us WON'T make us go away

PICTURE POSED MY MODEL. File photo dated 15/03/11 of a close-up view of a woman talking on a mobile

Dear elected officials - we're waiting fro your call - Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

"Ignoring it won't make it go away."

It's one of those sayings we've all heard at some point and more often than not it refers to some minor medical or dental issue that is being delayed for fear of the outcome. That's the case with me anyway.

However, in the case of certain elected officials in Norfolk, it could also be applied to their dealings with the local press.

In 20 years of working in this industry I've experienced numerous instances where an individual being taken to task over a certain issue, has decided the best way to deal with it, is to simply pretend it isn't there.

However, in the last couple of years, this odd occasion has grown to become the norm as far as some of those in very public positions are concerned.

It appears to have almost become a recognised tactic in fact. If you don't like the questions you are being asked on a particular issue, then the best course of action is to not bother to answer them.

And today I've decided to call that out and to say enough is enough to those public officials who chose to engage (or disengage) in such a way.

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But first I'm going to give you some examples.

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss is rightly facing questions over the cost of a lunch she enjoyed with a foreign diplomat, as well as claims she insisted that particular venue over a cheaper alternative.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss hosts the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers Session with Gu

MP Liz Truss - Credit: Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP

As an elected official, using money stumped up by taxpayers, the public therefore surely has a right to hear her explanation or her defence? She hasn't offered it up herself and that's one reason why we have the media, to ask questions on behalf of the public.

However, despite repeated calls early on Monday, as of the time of writing, we are yet to even get a response from the foreign secretary or her team. And this isn't the first time that's been the case.

We saw similar prior to Christmas when prominent Norfolk County councillor Bill Borrett was reported to Norfolk police and the RSPCA over claims he twice struck a horse whilst on a hunt.

Again, I would say the public he represents has a right to hear from him, and for that matter his Conservative group leader at County Hall, on the case. But both chose to ignore repeated phone calls and a visit by a reporter to the councillor in question which was met with a quickly closed door.

Bill Borrett

Bill Borrett - Credit: Submitted

It happened a few weeks earlier during the row over the various lockdown 'parties' at 10 Downing Street. As a constituent, as well as a journalist, I'd like to know my MPs take on this very important subject. Though some bothered to offer it, several did not.

We've seen lack of responses on several major issues over the last 12 months, such as Universal Credit, the recent Parliamentary standards row and more.

Believe me, these are not isolated incidents and regular readers will have noticed that, of late, we have taken greater care to highlight when we repeatedly contact someone, but they do not respond.

It's important you the readers know we are asking the right questions on your behalf - all too often those involved are not answering them.

Funnily enough, none of them seem to have problems getting in touch with us when there's good news to share.

Of course it could be argued that's their right - and if we were talking about private business people or general members of the public - I'd agree wholeheartedly.

But in these, and too many other cases to mention, they are matters of strong public interest and therefore it's an integral part of their role they should respond to them and let the constituents they serve know what they think.

I'm sure our MPs work very hard. I'm sure they are incredibly busy with all sorts of important matters at hand. I'm sure responding to the media is not at the top of their priority list.

But I'm also very sure this is happening way too often and in 2022 both I, and I think the readers, would like that to change.

* Note: In the interests of openness, none of the public officials mentioned in this column have been contacted about it. But they know where I am if they want to respond. 

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