It seems that Argyle and Bute Council have taken exception to a report about school dinners in a recent edition of The Daily Record. Without stopping to think twice (or, indeed, to think at all) the good folks at the Council sprang into action and imposed a ban on journalist Martha Payne, preventing her from photographing plates of food.
Martha Payne wasn’t the journalist who wrote the offending article or the sub-editor who wrote the headline (“Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies”) that so upset the Council; she wasn’t even the person quoted in the headline. No. Martha is an
8 9 year old schoolgirl who writes a well regarded blog about school dinners and illustrates them with photographs of the said dinners.
Never Seconds, the blog in question, is well written, fair-minded, has prompted a thoughtful debate about school meals and has helped to raise over £7,000 for a charity that supports school-based feeding projects for some of the world’s poorest children.
And the Council (or should that be the “Popular and Democratic Republic of Argyle and Bute”?) doesn’t like it. So, in what looks suspiciously like a fit of pique, they’ve banned Martha from photographing her school dinners, effectively putting the kibosh on the blog.
I don’t know whether they have citizenship lessons at Martha’s school, but it strikes me that Argyle and Bute would be better employed in holding her up as a model of active citizenship instead of indulging in this pathetic and vindictive assault on free speech.
Speaking on Radio 4’s The World at One, a spokesman for Argyle and Bute Council announced that the ban had on photographing school dinners had been lifted. And Martha’s supporters have added another £30,000 to her charity appeal. Result.