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Councillors Submit Motion To Ditch Luddite Council Rule

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Thursday, Jan 10th, 2013.

Wrexham Councillors have today submitted a Motion to a council meeting to allow social media at future council meetings.

This follows the ongoing issue regarding transmitting information live outside a council meeting, which until last night had not occurred – at least with permission. You can read about the historic event here.

Councillor Arfon Jones local member for Gwersyllt West said “Enough is enough, Wrecsam County Borough Council have endured a lot of negative publicity and reputational damage following their insistence on banning a respected journalist from using Twitter in a council meeting.

This bad publicity was quite unnecessary as Twitter is nothing more than a means of communication and does no harm. The outdated Standing Order 45 must be suspended or deleted and that is the purpose of this motion. I very much hope Wrexham councillors will support this motion.

The journalist in question was Steve Bagnall from The Daily Post, who encountered the ‘twitter ban’ when trying to cover a meeting this week.

Councillor David Bithell Leader of the Wrexham Independent Group said “It’s quite clear from recent meetings and press coverage that Wrexham council is out of touch and this needs to be debated by members of the council for consideration. Providing that we have a robust policy on how and when this is used and allowed in meetings I see this as a positive step in better engagement with the press and the public.”

The proposed motion (copied below) requests the current ‘Standing Order’ be removed or suspended, this is a rule that currently governs all council meetings. It does say that permission rests with the Chair of the meeting, but until last night that had never been approved when asked.

The Motion:
“We the undersigned call on members to delete or suspend Standing Order 45 of the Council’s Constitution which prohibits the broadcasting or transmitting from any meetings without the consent of the chair. We believe that there should be a presumption that ‘social media’ CAN be used to transmit or broadcast information from all council meetings to which the press and public have access.
We further call on officers to prepare a policy and or amendment to the Constitution on the Use of Social Media by Councillors including the press and public and to bring a report and draft policy or constitutional amendment back to a future Council meeting for consideration.”

Included is a definition of the ‘Social Media’ term used stating “Social media is the term commonly given to Internet and mobile-based channels and tools that allow users to interact with each other and share opinions and content. As the name implies, social media involves the building of communities or networks and encouraging participation and engagement.”

Comment: We have been pressing for change for a couple of years now, so its great it will finally be debated. Hopefully we can report the outcome live!

Wrexham.com looks forward to using current and future social media tools, although a blanket removal of the rule would make more sense than being overly prescriptive of ‘social media’. In the future such new ‘social media’ rules may seem as archaic as the current rules do today due to the fluid nature of technology and the internet.

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