FREEDOM of information is the lifeblood of democracy. Secrecy is a cancer.

So Belgarum is growing worried by the new tendency for city council candidates to withhold their home addresses from public documents. The rules have changed to allow them to do so. It is a backward step.

For the record, 10 Green candidates (out of 12) have withheld their addresses, six Conservatives out of 15, two Labour out of 15 and one independent. Only the 15 Liberal Democrats have all disclosed where they live.

Some people may ask, why is it important that these details are available? The question itself is rather depressing. The reason it is important is so that the electors can make a full and informed choice at the election. There are many scenarios why it may be important. The obvious one is: is the candidate local to the ward? There are lots of others.

Belgarum asked Labour, the Conservatives and Greens for the reasons why their candidates were being secretive. None responded on the record. One Green candidate privately said it was to protect families from being targeted and equated a candidate with a reporter, saying the journalist would not want their address revealed. Perhaps it needs to be explained that a reporter is not attempting to have a say in the spending of millions of pounds of public money and be paid out of the public purse.

READ MORE: Councillor apologises after printing 'lies' in election material about Winchester council candidate

It needs to be stated that anyone standing for public office should disclose their address. There should be no expectation of, or right to, privacy. The Chronicle acknowledges the abuse that some people, especially women, suffer, invariably from misogynists. This newspaper has publicly called for the lid to be lifted on people hiding behind anonymity on the internet, the main source of abuse. It also should be said that this newspaper's reporters have been abused, threatened and assaulted.

But the abuse by pathetic people, usually men, is not sufficient reason for secrecy and the erosion of information that has always been in the public domain.

For the record, these are the candidates withholding their addresses. The split between male and female is around 50:50. They now have the right to withhold their addresses; the Chronicle has the right to name them for doing so:

Greens: Lucinda Graham, Max Priesemann, Richard Cannon, Jenni Dixon, Julia Stolle, Reece Chadwick, Charlotte Harvey, Giles Gooding, Richard Needham and Robert Parker.

Conservatives: Lorraine Bailey, Andy Lai, Sam Feltham, Leo Keay, Signe Biddle, Renee Lu.

Labour: Stefanie Harvey, Stephen Turner.

Independent: George Madgwick.

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