(A pdf of this policy is available for download here)
St Erth Parish Council (“the Council”) is committed to the provision of accurate information about its governance, decisions and activities. Where this information is not available via the Council’s publication scheme, please contact the Parish Clerk.
The Council is accountable to the local community for its actions and this can only be achieved through effective two-way communications. The media – press, radio, TV, internet – can be crucially important in conveying information to the community so the Council must maintain positive, constructive media relations and work with them to increase public awareness of the services and facilities provided by the Council.
It is important that the press have access to the Clerk and to background information to assist them in giving accurate information to the public. To balance this, the Council will defend itself from any unfounded criticism and will ensure that the public are properly informed of all the relevant facts using other channels of communication if necessary.
This policy explains how the Council may work with the media to meet the above objectives in accordance with the legal requirements and restrictions that apply.
Legal requirements and restrictions
This policy is subject to the Council’s obligations which are set out in the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, the Local Government Act 1972, the Local Government Act 1986, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998, other legislation which may apply and the Council’s standing orders and financial regulations. The Council’s financial regulations and relevant standing orders referenced in this policy are available via the Council’s publication scheme.
The Council cannot disclose confidential information or information which the disclosure of is prohibited by law. The Council cannot disclose information if this is prohibited under the terms of a court order, by legislation, the Council’s standing orders, under contract or by common law. Councillors are subject to additional restrictions about the disclosure of confidential information which arise from the code of conduct adopted by the Council, a copy of which is available via the Council’s publication scheme.
If a confidential leak does occur, an investigation will take place to establish who is responsible and appropriate action will be taken following the complaints policy.
When the media wish to discuss an issue that is, or is likely to be, subject to legal proceedings then advice should be taken from the Council’s solicitor before any response is made. Whenever possible any information given to the press shall be given in writing so as not to leave interpretation open to misunderstanding and misreporting.
A meeting of the Council and its committees is open to the public unless the meeting resolves to exclude them because their presence at the meeting is prejudicial to the public interest due to the confidential nature of the business or other special reason(s) stated in the resolution. In accordance with the Council’s standing orders, persons may be required to leave a meeting of the Council and its committees, if their disorderly behaviour obstructs the business of the meeting.
Where a meeting of the Council and its committees include an opportunity for public participation, the media may speak and ask questions. Public participation is regulated by the Council’s standing orders.
The photographing, recording, filming or other reporting of a meeting of the Council and its committees (which includes e.g. using a mobile phone or tablet, recording for a TV/radio broadcast, providing commentary on blogs, web forums, or social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube), which enable a person not at the meeting to see, hear or be given commentary about the meeting is permitted unless:
- the meeting has resolved to hold all or part of the meeting without the public present;
- such activities disrupt the proceedings;
- the photographing, recording, filming or other reporting of a child or vulnerable adult at a Council or committee meeting is not permitted unless an adult responsible for them has given permission;
- oral reporting or commentary about a Council or committee meeting by a person who is present at the meeting is not permitted.
The Council shall, as far as it is practicable, provide reasonable facilities for anyone taking a report of a Council or committee meeting.
The Council’s standing orders will confirm if attendance by the public, their participation, photographing, recording, filming or other reporting is permitted at a meeting of a sub‐committee.
Other communications with the media
The Clerk and Members should always have due regard for the long-term reputation of the Council in all their dealings with the media.
This policy does not seek to regulate councillors in their private capacity.
The Council’s communications with the media seek to represent the corporate position and views of the Council. If the views of councillors are different to the Council’s corporate position and views, they will make this clear.
The Council’s Clerk may contact the media if the Council wants to provide information, a statement or other material about the Council.
Subject to the obligations on councillors not to disclose confidential information referred to above in relation to Legal Requirements & Restrictions, and not to misrepresent the Council’s position, councillors are free to communicate their position and views.
Adopted by Council at the meeting held on 3rd August 2021 under minute reference 082/21/22bii)