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PUBLICITY & PRESS POLICY

1. INTRODUCTION

  1. The purpose of this Policy document is to state how Sedlescombe Parish Council will increase public awareness of the services provided by the authority, the functions it performs and to improve local accountability through its publicity material.
  2. This document will also seek to provide guidance on how to deal with some of the practical issues that may arise when Councillors or the Clerk have to deal with the Press and Media.

2. PUBLICITY MATERIAL PRODUCED BY SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL. Local authorities produce a variety of publicity material. In Sedlescombe, the following material is published regularly:

  1. Agendas and Minutes of Council Meetings and Committees.
    1. Agendas of Council Meetings and Committee Meetings will be published on the Parish Council's website and on the noticeboard on the wall of Sedlescombe Stores during the week preceding the meeting.
    2. Clerk's briefing notes that inform the Agendas will usually be available to the public through the website, although there may be times when these notes need to be kept confidential.
    3. Minutes of Council Meetings and Committee Meetings will be published on the Parish Council's website as soon as possible after the meetings.
  2. Noticeboard on wall of Sedlescombe Stores.
    1. The noticeboard is used to publicise Parish Council business.
  3. Electronic noticeboards on website. Each month, a new electronic noticeboard becomes available on the Parish Council's website. This will contain information for both Parish Councillors and the public on matters linked to parish council business. It is not meant as a means of publicising village events unless they are connected with the Council or they advertise informative, rather than recreational, meetings such as those organised by, for example, the Police or the Youth Development Service. Links may, however, be added to other websites or pages which advertise local recreational events.
  4. Quarterly Sedlescombe Parish Council Bulletins. A 2-sided A4 bulletin is published by the Parish Council at the beginning of January, July and October. This is to be used to inform the public of decisions made by the Council or other matters connected with public sector business. It will not be used to advertise Village recreational events. The Bulletins are delivered to every home in the parish by a team of volunteers.
  5. Annual Report & Directory. The Council's main publication is its Annual Report and Directory in the form of a printed booklet (about 40 pages) which is produced in the first quarter of the calendar year. Copies are delivered to every home in the parish by a team of volunteers. The printing costs are met by the sale of advertising. The booklet contains:
    1. The Agenda of the Annual Assembly of the Parish Meeting of Sedlescombe
    2. An introduction by the Chairman of the Parish Council.
    3. The Minutes of the Meeting of the previous Annual Assembly
    4. An article entitled "Know your parish councillors". NB This item will not be published in election years.
    5. A brief statement regarding the current year's annual accounts and a summary of the forthcoming year's budget
    6. A report by the Parish Council of its work during the preceding year
    7. A Directory of local businesses
    8. A Directory of local organisations, societies and miscellaneous information
  6. Other material. From time to time, the Parish Council issues its own information leaflets. Currently, the following are available:
    1. A Walk through history in Sedlescombe - published 2002.
    2. Footpath Walks around Sedlescombe - published 2002.
    3. Please help preserve Gorselands' grass verges - published 2005.
    4. Waste Not - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - updated April 2009.
    5. What you need to know as a Dog Walker in Sedlescombe - A Short Guide - updated 2010.
    6. Energy Efficiency - valid until 01/07/10 but still being included in Welcome Packs.
    7. Sedlescombe's Pump & Pumphouse - a brief history - published 2010.

3. CONTACT WITH THE PRESS AND MEDIA

  1. The Parish Clerk, as the Proper Office of the Council, is authorised to issue Press Statements on behalf of the Council. Communications made by the Parish Clerk will relate to the adopted policy of the Council or to decisions of the Council following Council and Committee Meetings. She will not be expected to speculate on matters that have not been considered by the Council. The Parish Clerk, in consultation with the Council Chairman, is also authorised to publish press releases on any urgent matters where there is insufficient time for the matter to be considered at a Council Meeting.

  2. When speaking to the Press and Media, Parish Councillors should make clear the capacity in which they are providing the information. For example - as Council Chairman; as Chairman of a Parish Council Committee; as an individual (ie letter to press for publication). NB Never use the prefix "Cllr" when writing to the press as an individual. This implies you are stating Council policy. A copy of any written material sent to the Press and Media by a Member, as representing the Council, must be forwarded to the Parish Clerk.

  3. Councillors should take particular care if the Press or Media approach them for comment on a controversial subject. They should be careful not to be led into stating something they did not really mean to say. If unsure about any particular policy, simple state "no comment" and ask the Press to contact the Parish Clerk.

  4. Councillors should be aware that case law states that the role of a Councillor over-rides the rights to act as an individual. This means that Councillors should be careful about expressing individual views to the Press or Media whether or not they relate to matters of Council business.

  5. Councillors have an obligation to respect Council policy once made and whilst it may be legitimate for a Councillor to make clear that he or she disagreed with a resolution and voted against a motion (if this took place in open session), they should not seek to undermine a Council decision through the Press.

  6. Councillors and the Parish Clerk should always
    1. be informed and certain of all the facts;
    2. ensure that when making comments on behalf of Sedlescombe Parish Council, they reflect the Council's policy;
    3. ensure that any comments will not bring the Parish Council, and its Councillors or the Clerk into disrepute;
    4. ensure that verbal comments are not slanderous and written statements are not libellous.

10 July 2012