The BBC is boycotting mayoral briefings in Bristol after the council banned a reporter for asking a Labour politician why he flew across the Atlantic to give a 14-minute speech on climate change. MailOnline has more.
The BBC is boycotting mayoral briefings in one of Britain’s wokest cities after the council banned a reporter for quizzing a Labour politician on why he flew across the Atlantic to give a 14-minute speech on climate change.
Local democracy reporter Alex Seabrook, who works with the BBC and the Bristol Live website, had questioned Labour mayor Marvin Rees about the “irony” of travelling to Canada to give a TED talk about saving the planet when he could have done it on Zoom.
Mr Seabrook, who asked Mayor Rees why he saw fit to jet across the Atlantic having previously declared a “climate emergency” in 2018, will now no longer attend the press conferences after his bosses accused the council of stifling free speech.
Other journalists have rallied around in support, with the BBC and other local news outlets confirming they will not be sending representatives to mayoral briefings while he remains barred from attending and demanded the ban be lifted.
In a toe-curling press conference, Saskia Konynenburg (pictured), Head of Communications at Bristol City Council, intervened saying she disagreed that Mr Seabrook’s question on the mayor’s 9,200-mile carbon-spouting round trip in April to give a climate talk was “legitimate”.
Ms Konynenburg describes herself as an “influential communications leader, focused strategist and innovative content creator” and was only a reporter for three months in her career largely working for the public sector and charities, according to LinkedIn.
When Mr Seabrook said his job was to hold the mayor to account, she replied: “I think it probably is from a journalist from a newspaper, but I can’t quite see the link to LDR, but I’ll leave it there.”
Mayor Rees was last year branded a “bully” and an “egoist” after councillors – including from his own Labour group – accused him of sidelining them and shutting down debate.
Bristol City Council was branded woke after it paid for purple lightbulbs to be installed to mark the death of George Floyd at a BLM vigil. The city’s mayor joined protests in his city against Brexit.
He also called the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in the city as an act of “historical poetry”. In May 2022, a referendum took place in Bristol to decide if the city should continue being run by a mayor or a council-led committee system. The city voted 59% in favour of abolishing the post. Rees will continue to serve as mayor until 2024 before the job is axed.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a news agency funded by the BBC, with reporters working on regional titles across the U.K. covering local authorities and other public-service bodies.
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