A Bristol councillor has been blocked on Twitter by Mayor Marvin Rees, for asking a question about blocking residents on Twitter.
Councillor for Hengrove and Whitchurch Park, Tim Kent, submitted a question to Members’ Forum on Tuesday 06 July 2021.
He asked: ‘Bristol City Council website promotes several ways to engage with the mayor, which is welcome. One of these is your twitter account. How many people have been blocked from viewing and engaging with the Mayors twitter account?’
In a written response, Rees said: ‘I set up my @marvinjrees Twitter account before being elected as Mayor.
‘I can choose what I do with that account. That includes blocking individuals who are abusive or deliberately spread misinformation.’
Kent was unable to ask the question directly in the meeting, but in a subsequent post on Twitter stated: ‘Unfortunately not able to ask my question about the @MarvinJRees twitter account blocking people and how many. I note he did not answer the question. Also note he brings into question the legality of the £100k+ of taxpayers money spent on Impact Social monitoring of the account.’
But the next morning, Kent himself found he was blocked from accessing Rees’ Twitter account.
In a post on Twitter he wrote: ‘Asked the Bristol Mayor about the crisis caused by lack of special school places. Asked a verbal question on how many children do not have a place in Sept and projected for next Sept. He has promised an answer in writing. It is shocking that this has been allowed to occur.’
In contradiction to Rees’ given answer at Members’ Forum, the Twitter biography states that the account Rees has been using as Mayor and from which he is blocking Bristol residents from is the ‘Official Twitter for Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol.’
Last year, Bristol journalist Joanna Booth, uncovered payments from Bristol City Council to a company called Impact Social, to total £90,000 over two years for the monitoring of social media, including Marvin Rees’ Twitter account.
Reports released to Booth under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that Bristol Twitter users, including Tim Kent, were being monitored in reports compiled by Impact Social.
Unfortunately not able to ask my question about the @MarvinJRees twitter account blocking people and how many. I note he did not answer the question. Also note he brings into question the legality of the £100k+ of taxpayers money spent on Impact Social monitoring of the account. pic.twitter.com/rPPLsIz1tU— tim kent (@cllrtimkent) July 6, 2021
There are concerns that large sums of public money is being used to pay for the monitoring of the account, which Rees now claims to be personal.
December 2018: "the school crossing patrol officer was one of many cut by Bristol City Council this summer"— Joanna Booth (@stillawake) July 7, 2021
£90k cut from crossing guard services
£90k paid to Impact Social for the mayor's Twitter analysis.https://t.co/YCo2naBTat
It’s not currently clear how many Bristol residents have been blocked by Marvin Rees from his simultaneously Official and Personal Schrodinger Twitter account.
Disclaimer – We have also been blocked by Marvin Rees