Great Ashby councillor’s campaign over ‘unjust’ censorship
- Credit: Archant
A campaign to stop councils gagging elected members and preventing them from engaging with the press and public has been started by an infuriated councillor.
Terry Tyler, a member of Great Ashby Community Council, says the communications policy he and other members must adhere to is so restrictive it is preventing him from doing his job.
The policy, seen by the Comet, says ‘correspondence with the public from individual councillors should be avoided’ and states ‘the clerk should clear all comments to the media with the chair of the council’.
Councillor Tyler, who has been on the council for 18 months, said: “The first thing I started doing as a councillor was talking to people and making links with the likes of Round Diamond Primary School. I got told off for talking without the permission of the council.
“Surely one of the major things as a councillor is to be able to go out into the community and speak to people.”
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In February, Cllr Tyler gave the Comet his opinion on houses in multiple occupation in Great Ashby, which he says angered some members of the council to such an extent that a litter pick he was organising was promptly cancelled.
He said: “It’s ridiculous. I have more freedom to speak as a private citizen than as a councillor.
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“If a councillor is asked for their opinion, they should be able to give it.”
Cllr Tyler says overly restrictive communications policies are not limited to Great Ashby Community Council, but are in force across many parish and community councils.
He said: “I’m launching a campaign fighting for the democratic rights of fellow councillors. I’m calling on other councillors across the region to join my campaign with the mission to stamp out unjust communications policies and practice, to allow them to speak fairly and enable them to do their work without fear of recrimination.”
A council spokesman said: “All councillors are free to express a view, but they must do so by declaring that they are speaking for themselves as individuals and should not imply that they are speaking for the whole council, unless of course they are speaking on matters that have already been authorised.
“The separation of political views and personal views is there to ensure the public know that, when a statement is made by the community council, it is done so with a balanced view of the full council and the aims of the council as a whole remain clear and transparent.”
Visit www.councillorsfreedom.online for more information on council communications policies, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to support his campaign.