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The Conservatives have renewed their attack on the Welsh Government for not following Westminster's example and defining the public's right to report, film and tweet what happens in local council meetings.
This time the criticism has come from a Tory party official after complaints from Cardiff Bay that an earlier letter from the Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, was 'entirely inappropriate' and showed 'astounding ingnorance'.
The Local Government Secretary has been accused of 'astounding ignorance' by his Welsh counterpart. Lesley Griffiths has written to Eric Pickles after he criticised the Welsh Government for not following his lead in taking action to protect the right to report, film and tweet local council meetings.
In the letter Ms 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.'
The letter, which was also copied to the Secretary of State for Wales, has been seen by ITV Wales and marks an escalation of an already bitter row between the two departments and comes on the day the Welsh Government described relations with Whitehall as 'sometimes frustrating.'
A Welsh Government source has claimed that a UK cabinet minster is talking "utter nonsense" about the suppression of freedom of speech in Wales. Eric Pickles made the claim because Wales has not followed his policy on openness in local government.
The shadow Welsh local government minister has defended the decision by a UK cabinet minister to officially criticise the Welsh Government for not following his lead in allowing the public to report film and tweet local council meetings.
The row broke when the minister responsible for local government in England, Eric Pickles, released a letter he's sent today to the Welsh local government minister, Lesley Griffiths.
A UK cabinet minister says he's concerned that freedom of speech in Wales is being suppressed due to inaction by the Welsh Government. Eric Pickles, who's responsible for English local government, has released a strongly-worded letter he's sent today to his counterpart in Wales, Lesley Griffiths.
Mr Pickles has issued new guidance for the press and public on their rights to report, film and tweet council meetings in England, following new rules on openness that the UK Government brought in last year.
Although responsibility for local government is entirely devolved, the letter has been sent by Mr Pickles' Whitehall department, meaning that it's an official UK Government position, rather than just a party political attack by a Conservative on a Labour minister.