Resolution statement 05924-17 Bournemouth Council v Bournemouth Echo
Summary of complaint
1. Bournemouth Council complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Bournemouth Echo breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “’We used wrong bricks on shared space’, says council, after blaming rise in buses”, published online on 6 April 2017, and an article headlined “Bricks, not buses, to blame for work”, published in print on 6 April 2017.
2. The articles reported that the materials used in Bournemouth council’s shared space scheme had deteriorated earlier than expected, and that the road surface would be removed and new materials would be laid, at a cost of around £142,000. The articles claimed that the council “admitted it used the wrong materials”, and included comment from a council representative that “the blocks there haven’t acted in the way we thought”.
3. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to report that “Bournemouth Council has admitted it used the wrong materials”. The council’s representative had not said this, and the complainant said that the cause of the early deterioration of the bricks was yet to be determined.
4. The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code. While this was not directly said by the council’s representative, the newspaper said that it was not significantly inaccurate or misleading to characterise his comments in this way.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
(i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
(ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
(iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
(iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
(v) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
6. The complaint was not resolved through correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. In order to resolve the complaint the newspaper offered to publish the following clarification online, and on page 9 of the Bournemouth Echo:
In a story last month on £140,000 works to replace the shared space in Old Christchurch Road, the Daily Echo quoted a Bournemouth council officer as saying the wrong type of bricks had been ordered originally. We are happy to clarify that the council officer did not say that the wrong materials had been ordered, as the council does not yet know the reason for the ‘premature failure’ of the highway. They say it could be the material, the design, the workmanship or volume of traffic. Previously the council had stated in a news release that an increase in bus services was to blame but this was retracted the following day following a statement from the buses companies that there had been no additional services. Council officials say they will be working with their design consultant and the contractor to determine the cause of the early deterioration of the road surface.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its satisfaction.
9. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 10/04/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 05/05/2017
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