• Social media policy goes back to the drawing board

    25th July 2013 | News | Claire
  • Cllr Ray Bloxham introduced the policy, which he had helped produce with a senior officer.

    Myself and Roger Giles both told the meeting that we were unhappy with the policy, and Cllr Trevor Cope said the document needed to be properly proof read, picking out a number of typographical errors.

    Roger Giles said it was entirely wrong to try and bar councillors from mentioning “sensitive” issues on social media sites.  Who and how is a decision taken on what is too sensitive for a social media site?  And quite often it is the sensitive issues that need a good airing.

    I said I was very unhappy about the sentence that reads:  “You must not make any comment or post material that may cause damage to the council’s reputation or bring it into disrepute” as it could constitute a gagging clause.

    I said the policy as a whole was surely designed so that the council was not brought into disrepute so the above sentence was entirely unnecessary in any case. It was quite wrong to try and squash or stifle free speech, I added.

    A member of the standards committee had the previous day expressed exactly the same view, I told the meeting.

    I then proposed that the sentence be deleted and asked for a recorded vote (where each member must say in turn how he or she votes). 

    There was some shuffling and muttering at this point and a senior officer advised that as the revised social media policy (which had only been discussed by the standards committee the day previously – and was then amended and emailed to councillors later that day) was not printed for each councillor to refer to. Only the copy in the agenda papers was available last evening.

    The officer advised that the social media policy should return to the standards committee and be discussed at the next full council meeting in October.  This was agreed by the chairman.

    See this earlier blog for an account of what happened at the standards committee meeting – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/social_media_policy_could_gag_councillors/