Pros/cons/ethics of a Parish Councillor also being editor of the local community magazine.

+1 vote
For about 3 years I've been the editor of a local community/parish magazine and web site. It's an information hub for the parish but should also (I believe) be open to commenting on (and even criticising) decisions by both the parish council and county council. I've had to tread a fine line with that one as it's controlled by the parish council. There has been times when I felt things needed to be said, but couldn't be said openly.

I'm also standing in the coming parish council election. Clearly I will not be able to critique the parish council if I am one of the councillors!

I'm seriously considering - should I be elected - handing over the reigns of the magazine - partly because it should change hands from time to time (to prevent it going stale) but also because I think it may not be ethical for me to continue as editor.

Any thoughts?
asked by (210 points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
You can criticise the council but must make it clear the criticism is your personal view and does not reflect the views of the council. One thing you could do is to identify what you think would make them a better council and what you as a member will try to achieve. Check the council media policy. NALC advise members not to make media statement s without approval of Clerks but former DCLG secretary Pickles lambasted them for it and advised Parish Councils to cancel their NALC subscriptions.
answered by (2.4k points)
0 votes
For what it's worth, I am the Chairman of my Parish Council, the webmaster of the parish website, which is a whole community site, not just a parish council one, and I'm also the editor of the parish newsletter.  We don't provide any direct feedback options for residents via any of the above (letters page, blog etc), neither do we have any parish council social media outlets.  Experience has shown us that offering a soap-box in this way encourgaes ill-informed attacks from keyboard warriors that benefit nobody.  We encourage people to contact the chairman or clerk by phone or e-mail or to attend a parish council meeting in person to air their concerns.

It will, from time to time, be necessary to criticise your district or county council, but this need not be expressed in a negative way.  As a parish councillor, part of your role is to lobby other authorities on behalf of your parishioners.  All decisions of district and county councils are published on their respective websites, so they can be discussed openly.  Almost nothing is off limits these days, and rightly so.

Criticising your parish council, as you suggest, is more complicated.  As a parish councillor, you accept collective responsibility for the council's decisions and actions.  If you're not happy with things, you can use your position to try to change them, but you should act in the best interests of the council at all times.  I don't see this as being incompatible with the role of newsletter editor.  Indeed, your council might benefit from your dual role in being better able to communicate with parishioners.

I'm also the clerk of a couple of other parishes and, in one case, the parish council has been forced to consider taking over the responsibility for the parish magazine, as an out-of-control editor abuses his position to cause trouble, attacking not only the parish council, but individual, identifiable residents and whole streets within the parish.  This is so serious that it has now become a police matter.
answered by (2k points)

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