The use of digital and social media and electronic communication enables the Parish Council to interact in a way that improves the communications both within the Council and between the Council and the people, businesses and agencies it works with and serves.
The Council has a website and uses email to communicate. The Council will always try to use the most effective channel for its communications. Over time the Council may add to the channels of communication that it uses as it seeks to improve and expand the services it delivers. When these changes occur, this Policy will be updated to reflect the new arrangements.
Communications from the Council will meet the following criteria:
- Be civil, tasteful and relevant;
- Not contain content that is knowingly unlawful, libellous, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or racially offensive;
- Not contain content knowingly copied from elsewhere, for which Council does not own the copyright unless it is sanctioned to do so either expressly or implicitly by law when any permission, copyright or source will be acknowledged;
- Not contain any personal information unless this is essential for the purpose of the communication (for example, in reporting the name and address of someone who has called on Council to obtain action from the highway authority to unblock a gully at their premises).
- If it is official Council business, it will be moderated by either the Chair/Vice Chair of the Council or the Clerk to the Council;
- Social media will not be used for the dissemination of any political advertising.
In order to ensure that all discussions on the Council website pages are productive, respectful and consistent with the Council’s aims and objectives, we ask you to follow these guidelines:
- Be considerate and respectful of others. Vulgarity, threats or abusive language will not be tolerated.
- Differing opinions and discussion of diverse ideas are encouraged, but personal attacks on anyone, including the Council members or staff, will not be permitted.
- Share freely and be generous with official Council posts but be aware of copyright laws; be accurate and give credit where credit is due.
- Stay on topic.
Council retains the right to remove comments or content that includes:
- Obscene or racist content
- Personal attacks, insults, or threatening language
- Potentially libellous statements.
- Plagiarised material; any material in violation of any laws, including copyright
- Private, personal information published without consent
- Information or links unrelated to the content of the forum
- Commercial promotions or spam
- Allegations of a breach of Council’s policy or the law
The Council’s response to any communication received not meeting the above criteria will be to either ignore, inform the sender of our policy or send a brief response as appropriate. This will be at the Council’s discretion based on the message received, given limited resources available.
Parish Council Website.
Where necessary, enquiries may be directed to Council’s website to see the required information or may be forwarded to a Councillors for consideration and response. Council may not respond to every comment received.
The Council may, at its discretion, allow and enable local groups to have a presence on its website for the purpose of presenting information about the group’s activities. The local group would be responsible for provision of the content and ensuring that it meets the Council’s ‘rules and expectation’ for the web site. The Council reserves the right not to include any or all of a local group’s information from the web site if it feels that the content does not meet the Council’s ‘rules and expectation’ for its website.
Parish Council email
The Council has its own email address firstname.lastname@example.org which is monitored and used by the Clerk (mainly during office hours, Monday to Friday). The aim is to reply to all questions as soon as possible. An ‘out of office’ message is used when appropriate.
The Clerk is responsible for dealing with email received and passing on any relevant mail to members or external agencies for information and/or action. All communications on behalf of the Council will usually come from the Clerk, and/or otherwise will always be copied to the Clerk.
Individual Councillors are at liberty to communicate directly with parishioners in relation to their own personal views and, if deemed appropriate, copy to the Clerk.
NB any emails copied to the Clerk 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.
The Council do not operate a Facebook provision therefore sending a message/post via Facebook will not be considered as contacting the Council for official purposes and we will not be obliged to monitor or respond to requests for information through these channels. Instead, please make direct contact with the council’s Clerk and/or members of the council by emailing.
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.
Video Conferencing e.g. Skype
Note that this policy also applies to the use of video conferencing.
Councillors are expected to abide by the Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act in all their work on behalf of the Council.
As more and more information become available at the press of a button, it is vital that all information is treated sensitively and securely. 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 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 also be careful only to cc essential recipients on emails i.e. to avoid use of the ‘Reply to All’ option if possible, but of course copying in all who need to know and ensuring that email trails have been removed. Councillors should also use “blind copy” where desirable over cc but be aware that “Reply All” can throw up the identity of those blind-copied: which can be embarrassing.