and Highbridge Town Council defends its media policy
and Highbridge Town Council has this week defended its media policy
after concerns were raised by a local newspaper.
a meeting on Monday (June 18th), Burnham and Highbridge Town Councils
Policy and Finance Committee voted unanimously to adopt the updated
media policy that sees the Town Clerk, Tatiana Cant, continue in
the role of press officer, handling media queries.
letter to the council from the editor of the Weekly News stated
the media policy should not be used to 'gag' councillors or prevent
them from speaking to local media or the public.
such 'rule' could inhibit the ability of councillors to communicate
with those who they are elected to represent which would not be
in the interests of a transparent, democratic council. Such a result
could stifle or delay information reaching the people of Burnham
and Highbridge," claims the paper.
Town Clerk Tatiana Cant defended the policy, saying: "It is
common pratice in many larger organisations to appoint a press officer
and for press comments to be directed to this individual."
Town Council is a corporate body and - after discussion - arrives
at a corporate decision."
is no suggestion of the Town Council attempting to reduce levels
of transparency. Press are at a liberty to attend any public meeting,
with the exception of confidential sessions, and may record anything
which is spoken in the room."
Town Council is striving to ensure that accurate information is
reported between meetings. Comprehensive statements are made to
ensure the press and public are informed as quickly as possible
of important local issues."
all members are fully informed on all issues, particularly if they
do not sit on the relevant commitee. It is unhelpful for the press
to then approach members when a story is announced, and catch them
should not be in a position where they feel obliged to make responses
to the press and may feel more comfortable referring requests for
comments to the Town Clerk."
David Hoggarth said during Monday's meeting: "There is no way
I know lots of things in detail, there are a lot of initiatives
and policies and I am sure councillors will agree it is difficult.
It is very easy to make a comment on something and for it later
be misinterpreted. I agree with with the response that the Town
Clerk is making."
Andy Brewer added: "I have been contacted a number of times
by the press and if I am unsure of something I will just ask to
call them back later. I contact the officer for advice, the view
I give is based on what was said at our meeting, that was something
that was discussed openly and democratically."
we can be caught off guard, I will ask to call the person back and
then I will phone the officer so I know what we can say. I think
the Town Council can be caught off guard and we should have a policy."
on the councils Policy and Finance Committee unanimously voted
in favour of re-approving the media policy, which has been in place
since last year.
The Town Council in action at a meeting earlier this year