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0 votes

Our clerk has cut and pasted a Media & Comms Policy from a neighbouring council. It is a good policy document. 

However, the clerk has chosen to change a paragraph which materially changes the meaning of the paragraph and could easily be interpreted as restricting a councillors free speech. The original paragraph was perfectly acceptable and as was it related to council staff - officers - we only have one the clerk. But by including councillors who are not paid employees she has create a problem. 

The original paragraph read as follows:

Interviews

Any officer contacted by a journalist requesting an interview should refer the journalist to the Clerk, the Mayor, or the appropriate Committee Chair. The person put forward for interview will depend on the situation and the information required by the journalist.

Officers should never give their opinion on specific Council policy but must keep to the corporate line and key messages. Their role is to provide expertise and factual knowledge only, in support of the Council’s approved and agreed policies.

The amended paragraph reads:

Interviews

Any Councillor contacted by a journalist requesting an interview should refer the journalist to the Clerk, the Chairperson, or the appropriate Committee Chair. The person put forward for interview will depend on the situation and the information required by the journalist.

Officers and individual Councillors should never give their opinion on specific Council policy but must keep to the corporate line and key messages. Their role is to provide expertise and factual knowledge only, in support of the Council’s approved and agreed policies.

I would like the council to use the original paragraph but the clerk will not accept this. Any suggestions?

by (560 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
As a councillor, I would find the amendment totally unacceptable and would ignore it. Councillors must make it clear whether they are speaking on behalf of the council, or speaking for themselves. In the former case, they should normally have been delegated by the council to do so, and clearly should put forward agreed policies. In the latter case, they are free to comment as they see fit within the normal boundaries of constructive discourse. The clerk cannot gag councillors, whatever policies are put forward.
by (33.4k points)
Exactly my point to the clerk - update** after a week of back and forth on this the clerk has agreed to an amendment at the council meeting changing the paragraph back to original. Thank you for your response.
0 votes
All policy documents need to be approved by the council.  If you propose the amendment and it is accepted by your councillors, job done!
by (19.1k points)
I absolutely agree if the Clerks amendment was made after the Councillors agreed the policy it is invalid we review and vote on policy annually
If it is agreed policy then raise an amendment

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