The use of digital and electronic communication enables the Parish Council to interact in a way that improves the communications both within the Parish Council and between the Parish Council and the people, businesses and agencies it works with and serves.
The Parish Council has a website and uses email to communicate. Efforts will always be made to use the most effective channel for its communications. Over time the Parish Council may add to the channels of communication that it uses as it seeks to improve and expand the services it delivers.
If and when these changes occur, this policy will be updated to reflect the new arrangements.
Communications from the Parish Council will meet the following criteria:
- Be civil and relevant;
- Not contain content that is knowingly untruthful, unlawful, libellous, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or racially offensive.
- Will be within the guidelines of GDPR but not unduly fetter Council in its function of serving the community.
- The Clerk/Chairman will monitor all content in Council publications, Website, Newsletter, advertising.
THE PROVISION OF ELECTRONIC MEETING SUMMONSES
The Local Government (Electronic Communications) (England) Order 2015 allows Councillors to receive the summons to attend meetings in electronic form subject to receipt of written consent.
In view of the Council’s wish to increase electronic provision of information and the transaction of business to facilitate effective communication and reduce the reliance on hard copies of documents. Councillors are asked to agree to no longer receive paper copies of meeting agendas or Minutes and instead receive these documents (including the summons) electronically.
PARISH COUNCIL WEBSITE
Where appropriate, contacting the Council with an enquiry may be directed to Council’s website to see the required information, or the question may be forwarded to a Councillor for consideration and response.
PARISH COUNCIL EMAIL
The Clerk to the Council’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The email account is monitored mainly during office hours, Monday to Friday, and the aim is to reply to all communications received as soon as possible.
The Clerk is responsible for dealing with email received and passing on any relevant mail to Councillors or external agencies for information and/or action. All communications on behalf of the Council will usually come from the Clerk, and otherwise will always be copied to the Clerk.
Emails to the Parish Council become official and will be subject to The Freedom of Information Act. These procedures will ensure that a complete and proper record of all correspondence is kept.
Councillors and the Clerk may use SMS as a convenient way to communicate at times. All are reminded that this policy also applies to such messages.
INTERNAL COMMUNICATION AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION WITHIN THE PARISH COUNCIL.
The Parish Council is continually looking at ways to improve its working and the use of electronic communications is a major factor in delivering improvement. Parish Councillors are expected to abide by the Code of Conduct in all their work on behalf of the Parish Council. As more and more information becomes available electronically, it is vital that all is treated sensitively and securely.
Parish Councillors are expected to maintain an awareness of the confidentiality of information that they have access to and not to share confidential information with anyone. Failure to properly observe confidentiality may be seen as a breach of the Parish Council’s Code of Conduct and will be dealt with through its prescribed procedures (at the extreme it may also involve a criminal investigation).
Councillors should be careful only to cc essential recipients on emails and avoid use of the ‘Reply to All’ option (whilst ensuring that the people who need to know the information are copied in).
USING SOCIAL NETWORKS
If Councillors have a personal account on a social networking site, such as Facebook, they should think carefully about “friend” requests. Requesting or accepting an employee or a contractor of Council as a “friend” on a social network site must not compromise the professional and impartial relationship between Council staff and Councillors. Generally, this should be avoided.
It must also be remembered that even if it is a personal account on a social networking site, Councillors must be careful what is posted on their account as others may deem it to be the views of the Council rather than an individual. Care should be taken to avoid situations on personal accounts that could suggest to anyone that the Councillor’s personal views are in any way extreme or contradict the Council’s equal opportunities agenda. It should also be remembered that if speaking as a Councillor, the Council’s code of conduct will apply.
USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES DURING MEETINGS:
Council recognises that Councillors may wish to use electronic devises during meetings. Currently these are not provided by Council and so all equipment used is the responsibility of the owner and Council accepts no liability for loss or damage.
Councillors should consider the following:
- It is essential that the use of such devices is entirely to aid participation in debate and decision making.
- Care must be taken not to be distracted by other matters whilst using such devices. No communications of a personal nature should be undertaken during Council meetings.
- Particular consideration should be given to the perception of public in attendance as full engagement with their input is required.
- All devices should be placed on silent mode to avoid interruption unless previously agreed with the Chairman.
This policy will be reviewed as and when.