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Can a councillor be an anonymous moderator for Facebook site promoting his own agenda?

0 votes
We have a councillor that is a moderator for a local history Facebook site. He is anonymous on this site but he has friends and acolytes that post on his behalf to stir up anti council feeling if he doesn’t get his own way in Council. Often posts are against decisions that have been voted on in full council.

Some of our less experienced councillors think that this is genuine public opinion instead of an organised few.
Can he be forced to declare an interest? Is there anything that can be done to prevent, or at least, attribute these perfidious and destructive actions to him?
by (160 points)

3 Answers

0 votes

it’s called freedom of speech, Parish Council's are frequently hotbeds for rumours often because they lack transparency and criticism is something you have to live with 

Quite often it’s the Parish Council itself that the source. I was accused of leaking confidential information to the author of a letter in the local paper

It then came out I’d never heard of the person and their letter was entirely based on published minutes

Here’s an interesting slant on this subject 

by (5.7k points)
I am all for freedom of speech. My concern is the anonymity and surrogate opinions, often nasty, after discussions and joint decisions have been made in the public eye. The council has no real way of replying without getting into a Facebook spat.
It is more a question of openness and honesty rather than free speech.
Unfortunately we are staggering blindly into an Orwellian world. Our democracy and it's foundation, the right of freedom of speech and free expression of our point of view is not in the interest of those who see their point of view as the only one to be considered and all others extinguished by whatever means possible.
The silent majority must not remain silent but must ensure that their voices are heard to maintain their rights under law. As far as councillors are concerned the Nolan principles are well thought out and if followed meet high standards of conduct. The fact that some groups ( and I am not a fan of organisations such as NALC : self appointed) deem it necessary to tamper with the bits that interfere with their social engineering aims.
Once lost your freedoms, the basis of our hard won democratic principles and rights will quickly disappear and NEVER be returned to you.
Insist on the Nolan principles which every councillor signs up to are adhered to by ALL councillors. The weapons are there already use them against such interference by self serving groups and people.
Sorry to stray off topic, but I have seen a situation where it was councillors who appeared to attempt to hinder residents rights to free speech. I do not know whether a complaint was made to the Monitoring Officer. On previous occasions, when complaints were made because Councillors did not adhere to the Code of Conduct, the whole council was given training.  This was very expensive and the council (i.e. the rate payers) had to pay for it.  Residents are paying twice.  As well as suffering the effects of the councillors' bad behaviour, residents are also paying for the training, which does not appear to have been very successful. I can understand why residents don't consider it worth the time and effort and aggravation involved in making a complaint, and so often, especially now that there is next to no local reporting,  councillors just get voted in again, or are elected with no opposition, as no-one else wants to do it.  Also, a lot of damage can be done between elections.
0 votes
Listened to a very interesting podcast recently between a Councillor and a Monitoring Officer, it was about code of conduct which could be used in this case.  Will send you the link if you would like to listen.  The monitoring officer said they cannot be reported for code of conduct unless they state they have their Councillor hat on, so to speak.  If  he is mentioning in the comments that he is a councillor it could be classed as a code of conduct issue
by (540 points)
0 votes
The monitoring officer of the principal authority could rule on this, but it would appear to me that it doesn't amount to a pecuniary interest. If it cannot be argued to amount to a prejudicial or personal interest, there would be no need to declare it. However, if the page contained libellous or defamatory material the council could instigate legal action and submit a complaint to Facebook, who might choose to terminate it.
by (28.8k points)
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