Argyll and Bute council, swerving to avoid a PR disaster molehill, have just crashed full speed into a PR disaster mountain.
Over the past two months, a nine year old girl called Martha Payne has been blogging about her school lunches. She rated each meal for health, and counted how many mouthfuls it took to eat. The blog featured pictures of her school dinners, some of which didn’t look particularly nutritious. In the process she notched up over two million viewers and was reviewed by Time magazine and the Telegraph.
But one day she was hauled into her head teacher’s office and told to stop taking photos of her lunches. Here she is in her final blog bost:
This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.
I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too.
Her dad followed up with an explanatory note:
Veg’s Dad, Dave, here. I felt it’s important to add a few bits of info to the blog tonight. Martha’s school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha’s photography.
It seems the Argyll and Bute council decided to put a stop to the blog after it was featured in an article under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies..” in the Daily Record newspaper.
Their decision has caused a twitter storm since Wired broke the story, but has not yet got a response from the council, although the MSP for Argyll and Bute tweeted: “I think the decision is daft and I will be asking the council chief executive to reverse it.”
UPDATE: Argyll and Bute Council respond in a statement here.