A Lichfield councillor who called for Lichfield Live to be stopped from operating says she was trying to make a point about the impact of online comments.

Cllr Sonia Wilcox made her comments about the independent website at a meeting of the council – streamed online – earlier this week.

Cllr Sonia Wilcox

She told the meeting:

“I have already said before that Lichfield Live is really damning on this council and I feel it really needs to be stopped.”

Cllr Sonia Wilcox.

In a statement since a formal complaint to Lichfield District Council was made by Lichfield Live, Cllr Wilcox claims she had been trying to make a point about the “impact” online comments can have.

“I am really sorry for any upset or confusion caused by my comments at full council.

“I was trying to express my sympathy for Cllr Brown’s situation and make the point that people’s lives are affected by comments made online, in this instance in response to a story covered by Lichfield Live, which can have a serious consequence for the individual concerned.

“While I accept councillors, as public figures, are up for scrutiny, I do not think people who comment understand fully the impact this has on their families and loved ones and the distress it can cause.

“On reflection, I can see that in the heat of debate my comments appear to blame Lichfield Live for the comments that were made on their site, and I apologise if this has caused the journalists that run and contribute to the site any distress.

“It was not intended as a slight on their professionalism or the accuracy of their reporting.

“I do not wish to prevent freedom of speech, but I do ask that everyone considers the impact of their comments on the individuals and the families of those who represent their communities.”

Editor’s note:

We agree wholeheartedly that people who make online comments should be mindful of the impact their words can have. Cllr Wilcox has our full backing on that point.

And while we welcome the fact that Cllr Wilcox has recognised any attempt to silence a local media outlet is completely unacceptable, we are disappointed that her statement primarily seeks to justify her comments rather than apologise for what was a wholly inappropriate address to the council and those watching the livestream. It also fails to address some of the false and damaging comments she made.

We are pleased that Lichfield District Council is continuing to investigate our complaint in relation to the local authority’s own code of conduct and look forward to hearing the outcome of this.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

10 replies on “Councillor who called for Lichfield Live to be “stopped” says she was trying to make a point about the impact of online comments”

  1. There is always the danger that when there is no or little opposition to a ruling council that an authoritarian attitude will develop. A case of we don’t listen we tell!
    Lichfield is in the thrall of a party whose unashamed policy is business first. All the building and the lack of public amenities exemplifies this. All the buildings like the former library are passed into private ownership, and facilities like the leisure centres passed on to outside business. Look at the Friasgate site now. A plan that should enhance the heratige of the city like the former city fathers would have done? Not on your life! A money making excercise or more houses along with those planned exclusive ones overlooking Minster Pool is a more likely outcome.
    Is it any wonder that a caring minority come on Lichfield Live to express their exasperation. The fact that Mrs Wilcox can say what she did formerly in council is what she believes. Any weasel like backdown now is to save face and nothing else. In the interest of democracy she has shown herself unworthy of office.
    Lastly, wake up Lichfield ! This is your City and District don’t let rampant capitalism reduce it to the mediocre.

  2. You are still digging Mrs Wilcox. Is it beyond your comprehension that a full apology is appropriate rather than a half “save your face by attempting to explain” one?

  3. I see this statement is also on LDC’s own website.
    In all seriousness who honestly thought that a statement like that, which even our current Home Secretary would think was ill-judged, was a good idea?
    It fails to clarify anything and simply reinforces what the vast majority of local people already thought about her original statement during the council meeting.
    As the formal investigation is on-going, who advised Cllr Wilcox that this was a good idea?
    LDC created a totally unnecessary mess with the unfortunate Cllr Brown report. Yet its Lichfield Live and those local people who have understandably posted critical comments and sought more answers who have been unfairly vilified by some elected members.
    The only professionals in this whole sorry mess so far have been the team from Lichfield Live, who are all volunteers trying to provide a welcome news outlet for us.
    Get a grip LDC. You are failing badly and it is becoming an alarming habit.

  4. I agree that comments can cause an impact, but I’m concerned that Lichfield County Council and a lot of Councillors don’t fully appreciate how much the world has changed.

    Allowing Councillors to not attend meetings for 6 months seems incredibly outdated. It’s something that hasn’t changed since 1972, but councillors have been booted out before for breaking this rule (https://lichfieldlive.co.uk/2013/11/18/lichfield-councillor-disqualified-after-failing-to-attend-meetings-for-six-months/). This rather antiquated 6 month allowance is simply bizarre in a world where we’re all travelling less and working remotely more.

    With the coronavirus tilting habits towards performing even more activity online, there can no longer be a belief that more and more constituents won’t share their thoughts on news items, whether it be here, Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere.

    Councillors and the council must be accountable.

  5. Worst thing that happened to councils was when the councillors began to reward themselves with allowances and expenses. I bet there weren’t many who missed the meetings and votes then.

  6. I have watched this whole sorry episode unfold over the course of this week and find it “mind boggling”.
    The council has handled this whole week so badly. I had high hopes for our young council leader but this week is a huge setback. The report into the elderly Councillor and his “IT” issues was handled badly enough, but this is bordering on a Yes Minister type farce. I would say it was like a Carry On film, but at least they were funny.
    Cllr Wilcox was plain wrong to say what she did at the council meeting. She has now made everything worse with this statement – no apology, just a half-baked excuse that means dwiddly sqot.
    There is a saying which applies we’ll here. When you are in a hole stop digging.
    I support Lichfield Live completely over this issue. Without this website Lichfield would be a lot worse off than we are now.

  7. Congratulations to Lichfield Live are in order. Long live the third estate! When the money that can be grabbed in the short term becomes more important than what we leave for the future the perpetrators, in this case our councilors, someone must me called to account.

  8. She is an embarrassment. Another embarrassing entity is the last thing LDC needs. Doug Pullen is to be admired for his performance thus far, and I genuinely believe he is a decent man but, it’s time the swamp was drained at LDC and councillors like Wilcox were shown the door. We need new blood who are prepared to attend 90% of meetings.

  9. Its is extremely disappointing that Cllr Wilcox has made this statement, a simple apology I got it wrong was all that was needed, after all people do make mistakes and can upon reflection see their error’s, but clearly not in the case.
    To the specific point on impact and distress social media posts have, does Cllr Wilcox understand the distress and impact that LDC’s inability to run this City is have on the very people they are meant to serve. Their failure to provide an effective local infrastructure is and continues to have a direct impact on the local population, I think not.
    Cllr Wilcox has reached her level of incompetency and should gracefully apologise and resign.

  10. Is councilor Wilcox worried that Lichfield live may further expose ,just how useless and costly councilors have become . .off with their heads

Comments are closed.