Twitter ban after council leader’s misuse of personal social media
COUNCIL officers have been banned from writing councillors’ tweets after it emerged that leader Michael Jones had enlisted staff to tweet from his personal account.
The Local Government Act prohibits councils from publishing material which appears to affect public support for any political party, and Cheshire East Council’s constitution says that staff input should be ‘politically impartial’.
But it has been revealed that since joining Twitter in April last year, Coun Jones has asked media staff to write tweets for his personal account, some of which are alleged to have attacked opposing political parties.
Tweets that have been written by media officers included one in September which said: “Same old story from Labour. Moribund Miliband wants a 1950s NHS in the 21st Century.”
Questions have now been asked about whether this is an abuse of his position as leader of the council and a misuse of council resources.
Coun Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East’s Labour group, said: “With these latest revelations of inappropriate behaviour, he should consider his position and resign.”
A council spokesman said that council officers’ future involvement will be restricted to advisory only.
He said: “Cheshire East Council’s chief executive has been made aware that on a number of occasions last year, members of the media relations team gave assistance to the leader of the council with his new personal Twitter account.
“Although the context of this was to protect the council, this activity is not permitted and staff have been advised accordingly.
“The chief executive has taken action to bring this practice to an end.
“However, it should be stated that where the leader and council members wish to access the council’s Twitter accounts, then the media team is able to give support and assistance.
“Appropriate training and development has been put in place to embed the council’s protocols in all future communications.”
This is not the first time that Coun Jones has been in trouble over alleged misuse of council resources. In April 2013 he was forced to apologise after using the council’s Easter message to make a political statement. The message, written by the council’s press office on April 17, included a message from Coun Jones calling on residents to ‘keep faith with the Conservatives’.