Thursday, 13 August 2009

Thanet District Council’s Protocol on Blogging

Some of you will probably have noticed if you keep an eye on http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ or regularly delve the TDC website that back on Thursday, 18th June there was an item about blogging on the standards committee meeting see http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00001611/$$$Agenda.doc.htm item 11. is a Draft Protocol on Blogging, it says “Report to follow” apparently it hasn’t followed yet, however councils are not noted for their speed of action so I will let that pass.

The “Minutes of the Standards Committee18 June 2009” have just appeared at http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00001611/$$$Minutes.doc.htm and here is what they have to say.

“R74 Draft Protocol on Blogging
The Monitoring Officer reported that a draft protocol was with Group Leaders. The protocol would be for guidance only. If a Councillor byeline is used on a blog then the code is engaged; so advice is required to blog within the Code of Conduct. A protocol will be produced after consultation with councillors.

Miriam Sarrafan reported that Harlow LA has produced a protocol which is in the public domain.

Resolved: the Monitoring Officer would report on progress at the next meeting in September.”

Anyway following the true Thanet spirit of plagiarism I suspect when they eventually appear there will be some similarities with what Harlow Council have produced, so here is what Harlow have to say, I should warn you that the following link takes you to a pdf file that may not agree with your computer’s digestion.

At http://www.harlow.gov.uk/pdf/communications%20protocol%20revised%20-%20item%209.pdf where they they say:

“2.4.4 Blogs
Staff are reminded that blogs are governed by the provisions of this protocol as they are any other medium of communication. Consequently any communication in work time regarding the Council or an individual’s role as an officer through the blog will be regarded as being a statement to the press or general public. Also Officers must consider whether any blog updated in a private capacity (that is in an Officer’s own time) contains information that could be considered to bring the Council (including Members and colleagues) into disrepute or divulging confidential information.

Members are entitled to maintain their own blogs and are responsible for their content. Any blog that is linked to the Council website must comply with the Council’s Code of Publicity Practice and media related legislation. During the purdah period prior to normal elections these blogs will be disconnected from the Council website. However at times of by-elections such connection may be retained depending on the individuals non-engagement in the election process. The blog author is responsible for ensuring compliance and for moderating comments posted on to the blog.”

I suppose my point here is that with the Labour group saying that this is a ploy to gag Labour councillors and the Conservative group saying it isn’t, why don’t they just publish the draft protocol on the internet so everyone knows where they stand.

6 comments:

  1. Oh! Michael

    If only everyone thought as logically and got straight to the point just like you! Hope you are feeling better now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's all a storm in a teacup but in principle, some kind of direction on blogging would prevent the kind of censure of Cllr Green by the Standards Committee published in the local paper this week.

    If councillors remain polite, professional and sensible and work within the code that already exists, such direction shouldn't really be necessary but that's in a perfect world!

    ReplyDelete
  3. 17.09 Thanks I am recovering fine, shouldn’t have been on roller skates, I noticed today that I eligible to join Thanet Senior Citizens' Forum, perhaps better give it a miss though.

    Simon, with respect I think you have missed my point, which is about open government, it’s nearly 2 months since the council produced a document saying that the daft protocol on blogging would appear and it hasn’t.

    When the minutes for the meeting to discuss this appeared, they didn’t appear in the new documents published list (this would be normal practice), which suggests to me that they want to conceal something here.

    As I have said before this part of the council website should have proper feeds so we all know when something new is published.

    And frankly it doesn’t really matter if the council is trying to conceal information that it shouldn’t be, or if it just looks that way to anyone that regularly uses its website, either way it is not good.

    The constraints imposed on blogging politicians here in Thanet are of considerable importance to me and should be to you, unless you consider that Thanet Life had no influence on the number of votes you got in the local elections.

    The internet opens up the way for a completely different relationship for ordinary members of the electorate with the way they are governed, regulation of this is in its infancy and needs to be done in as transparent a way as possible would you not agree?

    ReplyDelete
  4. when the 'daft' protocol on blogging appears in its proper form it will be published but to date I've seen nothing tangible and it remains a conversation only from where I sit!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Simon great typo? (I often wonder how many of peoples typos slip under the old Freudian net, I suppose it would have been your post title on Thanet Life about the matter before you entered politics) but yes daft protocol sums it all up for most of us.

    ReplyDelete
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