Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Councillors to be Gagged

Can't say I always agree with Eric Pickles, but on the Garden Tax, the Tip Tax and this he's dead right. Barmy new guidance from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) that tries to ban parish councillors from speaking to journalists without prior permission from officials has been castigated by Eric. NALC has written to 9,000 parish and town councils urging them to adopt the guidelines into their constitutions, meaning councillors who refuse to comply could be disciplined. The guidance states: •All journalists must contact the council clerk and may not contact councillors directly. •Any contact by councillors with journalists requires the council’s prior written consent. •Councillors cannot provide verbal or written statements to the media as a councillor without the written consent. •Councillors are not permitted to use the title ‘councillor’ if giving comments in a private capacity. It does add, though, that council business may be reported by the press without prior warning to the authority. But it adds “it is sensible for a council to have a policy to regulate its proactive or reactive communications with the media”.