Council considers tweeting

CLEVEDON Town Council could set up its own Twitter account to keep in touch with residents after the issue was brought to the fore by one of its members.

In last week’s Times it was reported how Cllr Jane Geldart had been banned from sending messages on the social networking site during meetings. She had previously given updates to the people following her on Twitter of the varying issues being discussed during a council committee meeting.

However, this caused many members to raise concerns, including the fact it could affect her concentration and could lead to the public misinterpreting her messages.

As a result, Cllr David Shopland put forward a motion to update a council rule to prevent members from communicating details during meetings with people not present. This was to update and clarify a rule which already existed under the council’s standing orders.

On August 8, the motion was passed along with a new rule telling members to switch off their mobile phones during meetings.

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The resulting debate led to Cllr Trevor Morgan suggesting the authority looks to create its own, official Twitter account to be controlled by its office staff.

As a result, the suggestion will be discussed at the finance and general policy committee meeting on August 29 before going to the full council for discussion.

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Town clerk Paula Heath said: “Cllr Morgan has given it to me to think about how it could work.

“Any method to get in touch with the community is a bonus. Any method to engage the community in a real way is a bonus.

“We have not banned her from tweeting, she’s just not allowed to do it during meetings.

“If a councillor tweets about council business from their personal account, that account then becomes governed by our Code of Conduct.”

In response to the suggestion, Cllr Geldart said: “I am pleased the town council is now considering the benefits of Twitter. The fact that they are doing so sends a clear and positive signal to all Clevedon residents.

“The more forward-thinking councils around the country already see this sort of engagement with their community as a good thing.

“It is reassuring Clevedon Town Council is edging, albeit slowly, into the 21st century.”

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