Councils maintain media policy despite change of heart by national body (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Loughton, Waltham Abbey and Epping town councils stick to media policy
2:36pm Friday 27th June 2014 in News
A town council is sticking to its media policy despite a change of heart from a local government association.
In December the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) published a document suggesting parish and town councillors should seek written consent from the clerk or council before talking directly to journalists.
Last week NALC decided to revisit the advice after meeting with members of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Loughton Town Council does not allow its councillors to speak about council matters in an official capacity but purely offer personal opinions.
Loughton town mayor, Sharon Weston, did not comment directly when asked about the NALC advice and the decision to rewrite it.
Instead she endorsed a statement from Enid Walsh, Loughton town clerk, which read: “All official communications whether made on behalf of the council or of a committee shall be issued by the town clerk.
“Custom and practice here is that councillors speaking or writing directly to the press should make it clear they do so in a personal capacity.”
However councillors in Epping and Waltham Abbey are able to comment on council matters but may be restricted in what they can talk about with authority due to the structure of the councils.
Katherine Richmond, Waltham Abbey town Clerk said: “Our advice is pragmatic rather than prescriptive.
“Councillors are allowed to talk to journalists but they wouldn’t have the authority to comment on behalf of the whole council as decisions have to be made by all members.
“They are able to express their own views and comment on decisions which have already been made by council.”
Epping town council follows a similar practice.
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