After Swansea another council, Salford, has decided to ban councillors from Twittering during Council meetings.
In the case of Salford, at least, the ban will apply to journalists as well as councillors. I wonder if the argument is different. Councillors are paid at public expense to be participants in the process not just observers. They should be concentrating on what is going on and showing proper respect for the Mayor and the office they hold. Journalists are there to get news – part of which is getting news quickly.
Cllr Iain Lindley, a Conservative councillor on Salford, will naturally respect the ruling while it is in force but would like it reconsidered. He feels that both councillors and journalists should be able to Twitter duiring Council meetings:
The public gallery is usually empty. Our Council meetings make decisions that affect local residents across Salford, but we make it as difficult as possible to actually allow residents to see democracy in action.
Twitter changes that. I can get across to local people what is happening in our Council meetings, together with the sterling work that the Manchester Evening News is doing by covering our Council
meetings live. I understand that 500 people logged on to watch coverage of the January Council meeting – and that’s 500 more than turned up in the public gallery. Now that outlet to the communities of Salford has gone, in a flash.
I make no apologies for wanting to make our Council meetings more accessible. I will continue to argue for more transparency and openness in local government and particularly here in Salford City
Council. I hope that some local residents benefitted from the insights that I was able to give at the previous Council meetings and that I will be able to do so again in future.