Glasgow urged to scrap fees on democracy
6 May 2010
Journalists in Glasgow have been told they must pay a fee of £50 to use facilities at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre while covering election counts tonight. The NUJ has protested to the Glasgow returning officer over the demands.
In a letter to returning officer George Black, Pete Murray, NUJ president, points out:
"Such charges could impact upon the ability of certain sectors of the media to provide immediate coverage to its readership, particularly small, independent community newspapers with a loyal, local following."
The Glasgow counting centre is thought to be unique throughout the UK in seeking to charge the media to provide the public with information on the election outcome. Journalists are being charged a fee of £50 plus VAT for a press package that includes a table, a chair, an electrical power point and a high speed internet link.
Pete Murray said:
"The election count is a fundamental aspect of the UK's electoral system and media coverage is an important facet of the democratic process. These costs would be negligible when the overall cost of the count is taken into consideration and would allow the media to communicate the outcome to its readership, the voting public, as quickly as possible, providing a vital community service."
The issue was raised at an all-party hustings meeting for the Glasgow Central Constituency this week, hosted by the NUJ. All the candidates expressed concern about the proposal to charge and said it should be withdrawn.