Twit­ter ban after coun­cil leader’s mis­use of per­sonal so­cial me­dia

Macclesfield Express - - NEW YEAR’S HONOURS LIST -

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’.

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