Follow us on Twitter

Councillors working against the council

0 votes
Quick question.. is it deemed irregular for a serving member of a council to 1)share incorrect or incomplete information with the public on social media and 2) be part of a private group on social media that is organising a petition against the same council they are a member of.. also should that person be declaring this interest before any further meetings?

Many thanks for your advice and assistance
asked by (250 points)

5 Answers

+1 vote

The more relevant question should be "is it unlawful for a serving member of a council to share misleading  information on social media and participate in organising a petition against their council? 

The answer is probably   "It depends" and in particular, what the petition is about.

Cllrs should declare am interest in any activities they partake in that could influence or impact on Council decisions.

If the cllr was elected on a visible platform of campaigning against the Council, it is difficult to argue that it would be unlawful to share  non confidential or non exempt information.  However, if the information shared is inaccurate, it could leave them open to legal action by the Council if the information was libelous etc. 

answered by (14.7k points)
To add further info, the person posted on their own social media account on a community group and gave information that was from discussed plans, which hadn’t been fully figured out yet and was still being debated between councillors. They were told when they joined the Council (1 month ago) not to share council information with the public unless it had been authorised by the council.  It appear they and two others are trying to find ways to get the Chair removed for conflicts of interest and bullying despite several investigations which have all proved the accusations to be baseless.
If the information was not of a confidential nature and was still being debated between councillors in a public forum, nobody has the right to tell a member of the council that they cannot share it. We call it open government!
The information was not discussed or debated in a public forum, it was only being discussed by councillors in a closed group which only councillors had access to and they have shared this information without context which has caused more friction with members of the public and fuelled an on-going feud with a small number of residents. They have joined this small number on a private group to co-write with residents a petition to try and remove the chair. At a recent meeting when this was being discussed none of them declared their interest in this petition or their involvement with writing it
A public petition to remove the Chair carries no weight. The councillors elect the Chair. As long as these individuals are in the minority on the council, they have no power to make changes. Sometimes it's best to ignore this sort of thing and see whether it runs out of steam. Challenging it adds fuel to the fire.
+1 vote
Yes!  I agree with Graeme_r, there are perhaps too many variables and unknowns to make a judgement.

However it does sound to me that the Cllr in question may be sailing very close to the wind with regards to your own Code of Conduct. This may vary from the official Sec. of States generic model but it still has to embody the the seven basic principle of the Localism Act.

Was the 'passed on' and 'misrepresented information' confidential at that time, was he/she acting as a private individual or presenting themselves as a parish councillor on social media, although if the circumstances are as you say it is difficult to appreciate how they could not be doing so.

Also do you have a Social Media Policy, if not perhaps it is time to consider adopting one which is suitably worded. If he/she is acting as a private individual on social media then it may be a fine line, but if they are clearly projecting themselves as a Parish Councillor then it is likely to put a completely different picture on things as far as a monitoring officer is likely to be concerned. If you know the Parish Council are absolutely whiter than white and the Cllr is bang out of order an official complaint to the MO will almost certainly be a very sobering thought as you can be sure that the documents which notify of the complaint and contact from the MO will very deffinately focus their mind. Of course such an action will probably create an untenable future situation but it sounds like you may already be at that cross roads anyway.
answered by (850 points)
To add further info, the person posted on their own social media account on a community group and gave information that was from discussed plans, which hadn’t been fully figured out yet and was still being debated between councillors. They were told when they joined the Council (1 month ago) not to share council information with the public unless it had been authorised by the council.  It appear they and two others are trying to find ways to get the Chair removed for conflicts of interest and bullying despite several investigations which have all proved the accusations to be baseless.
+1 vote
Absolutely.
Whilst a Cllr is entitled to their opinion you would expect them to represent the council as a unit. If they disagree then their time is during the meetings at appropriate times for debate where it is minuted.
For the councillor to be part of a petition against the council is highly unusual and quite gross. One would be questioning their real purpose of being on the council if they are only wanting to stoke up trouble.

Perhaps the Councillor is ‘weak’ and therefore trying to be a popularist. If I were a betting person I would bet the reason this person joined the council is to ‘show off’ that they’re doing something about the problem the ‘people’ are trying to resolve.

Could be wrong.

If the Cllr in question is sharing confidential information I.e. those from closed meetings then this is a breach in conduct and should be reported to the MO, however as were also well versed on that subject here there’s very little point as they have no power.
answered by (5k points)
The item shared was a hand drawn plan sent on my private email with nothing to say it was confidential or anything else written on ot.  This was not discussed at a meeting, nor was the proposed plan bought to the attention of the public whom it would affect. A proposed change of gateway at the top of our playing field that was on a more dangeroud part of the road next to a development field, the removal of 65feet of hedgerow that had been turned down by the previous parish council in 2011 as being against the wishes of the community I have only shared my private information to try to stop this and have been supported by the enviromental officer and the monitering officer who has tried to hol an indepenant residents survey but has been turned down by the chair who has a DPI in the development field. Far from being weak, I am a small voice in a clique of coopted 'friends and family.'
If you have written support of the environmental officer and the monitoring officer supporting your point of view this could be part of documentation you could put forward at the meeting.
2011 was along time ago, areas change and I doubt if there are many councils who have not revisited and possibly changed decisions made nearly ten years ago.
A drawing that was sent as a guide to you.. which you then went out and with two others and sprayed paint around the field without submitting the proper Risk assessments and COSH forms. Also giving the confidential information to your husband (who also wants to join the council) to then publish on social media is just as irresponsible.
It all comes down to professionalism and conduct.
If you can truly say you’ve acted in a professional manner and represented the role of Cllr with integrity then fine.
Cllrs should behave like they would as employees, we should act with dignity and professionalism at all times. But until such time there’s proper governance that’ll never happen!
+1 vote
Petitioning a council is legitimate. Misinformation is a little different. It would be easier if your Council were just more open.
I am not sure it's fair to say they are against the Council, they're probably trying to raise a matter that is of importance but of a differing view of the council, or the perceived developing view of the council. I don't think that's wrong
answered by (3.1k points)
I agree RuralTCllr.  There seems to be a presumption that they are against the Council.  Perhaps the Council concerned do need to be more open with the public.  For some reason, the hand drawn plan that has been mentioned, appears to have been sent to the personal email address of one councillor, not marked as confidential, and without being discussed with councillors.
The title of the post, 'councillors working against the council' has negative connotations.
As previously stated, there are too many variables and unknowns to make a judgement.
–2 votes
The last few questions and threads seem to be all related and appear to be “Like a child telling on the older Children steeling from the biscuit tin with chocolate  all round their mouth.

What does come across from Carry Smart and Robin is that them may well be related or know each other.

Councillors have to make judgements calls all the time and cannot please the whole community all the time. Try working with your council rather than against them and be prepared that not all decisions will be to your liking but that’s why councillors take votes on decisions

If you are a new councillor attend some training there is nothing worse than a new councillor coming in and trying to rewrite history, Without knowing why decisions have followed a certain path your intentions may be honourable but it does not appear the actions are very conducive to teamwork. As a councillor you are part of a team and I am not sure you are grasping that concept
answered by (1.6k points)
edited by

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Google Analytics Alternative