Mayor in favour of free speech


Stirling Times - - News - Toyah Shake­speare and Kate Leaver

THE City of Bayswa­ter Mayor has reaf­firmed coun­cil­lors’ “free­dom of speech”, less than a week af­ter Stir­ling coun­cil­lors and staff were rep­ri­manded for talk­ing to the press.

In a memo leaked to Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group, Stir­ling chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art Jar­dine last week re­in­forced rules that coun­cil­lors and staff could not ex­press their views to the me­dia.

The memo was sent fol­low­ing de­tails re­vealed by Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group of a Worksafe re­port into “bul­ly­ing be­hav­iours” car­ried out by Stir­ling Cr El­iz­a­beth Re.

“Fol­low­ing re­cent me­dia cov­er­age re­gard­ing a num­ber of mat­ters at the City of Stir­ling, I would like to re­mind you of your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties when deal­ing with the me­dia,” he wrote.

“Only the mayor and (with the mayor’s agree­ment) the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer can speak on be­half of the City of the coun­cil.”

He said if a coun­cil­lor or em­ployee was ex­press­ing his or her per­sonal view, they had “a le­gal duty of fi­delity to act in the best in­ter­est of the coun­cil and the City”.

“Any com­ments to the me­dia that go against this di­rec­tion may con­sti­tute a breach of reg­u­la­tion 7 of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Rules of Con­duct Reg­u­la­tions 2007, a breach of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act 1995 or con­sti­tute mis­con­duct un­der the Cor­rup­tion and Crime Com­mis­sion Act,” he wrote.

At a Bayswa­ter meet­ing this week, a mem­ber of the public queried the coun­cil’s me­dia pol­icy.

The man said Cr Dan Bull ap­peared promi­nently in the press and ap­peared to rep­re­sent the coun­cil.

How­ever, Mayor Barry McKenna said coun­cil­lors formed an in­de­pen­dent board and the City al­lowed them free­dom of speech.

“I’m not go­ing to stop any coun­cil­lor from talk­ing to the press,” he said.

“Coun­cil­lors need to know they are not in breach of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act by speak­ing to the me­dia.”

He also said coun­cil­lors could not speak against a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

Stu­art Jar­dine.

Barry McKenna.

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