Council reject ‘spying’ claims after Plaid councillor says social media posts ‘policed’ by council officer
A a local councillor has strongly criticised Wrexham Council, and the Council Leader, after her social media posts resulted in ‘phone calls’ from the council’s monitoring officer.
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru councillor for Queensway, told us she had a call recently over a tweet made from the Local Development Plan examination sessions, that she says was quoted to her by the council’s monitoring officer. The tweet is still public.
Cllr Harper added that she saw it as ‘legitimate comment’ on a topical issue, and ‘all part of the day job’.
She said: “As a group we have had a number of phone calls from the council’s senior monitoring officer since being elected due the council leader Mark Pritchard being ‘upset’ with posts and comments on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“The latest phone call came last week following our criticism of the council announcing they were slashing hundreds of affordable houses from the local development plan last minute.
“I was told the leader was ‘upset’ at a post on my Facebook page criticising the move and the comments members of the public were making underneath it. I was advised to review and censure what was on there.
Just been told by the Planning Inspector examining @wrexhamcbc #LDP that local cllrs have no right to be heard over losing 800 affordable houses due to secret deal. 10 housing developers WILL be allowed to speak. @wgmin_housing pic.twitter.com/bWVoTM6wVx
— Carrie (@CarrieAHarper) October 10, 2019
Cllr Harper says she was also told that a fellow councillor retweeting it was also apparently a problem.
In a statement that referred to “council leader accused of spying on Plaid Cymru councillors’ social media” Cllr Harper added: “There seems to be a pattern of Plaid Councillors being targeted in this way over the past 18 months.
“I was also threatened with legal action for sharing a webcast clip of a council meeting not so long ago as well. It’s bizarre.”
Referring to an incident in 2018 where Cllr Harper was threatened with ‘enforcement action’ due to clipping something from a webcast, something that was then against the rules but now fine under the new constitution.
She added: “Plaid Cymru very much believes in ensuring Wrexham council becomes a much more open and transparent organisation. We won’t stop highlighting issues we feel the people of Wrexham should be aware of. It is in fact our job to do just that.”
”But is it really a good use of public money to use senior council officers to police Plaid Cymru’s social media? I’d suggest there are more important issues they should be focussing on.”
Wrexham Council rejected the claims this afternoon that officers were policing councillors social media output, “Councillors’ social media accounts are not monitored by Wrexham County Borough Council.
“All elected members are subject to Social Media Guidelines and the Code of Conduct which they must adhere to.
“It is the Council’s Monitoring Officer’s role to consider concerns raised when brought to their attention.”
(Top pic: Promotional material for Cllr Bond and his latest escapade. Thanks to the 50+ replies to our question earlier about Wrexham versions of James Bond – you can read all the suggestions to the tweet here!
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