Reduced Services

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

In line with social distancing advice and to protect residents and staff the Council has taken the decision to close the Council offices to the public until further notice.

Whilst the offices are closed to visitors, you are still able to access services and information from this website 24/7.

Information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to access Council Services during this period can be found on our Coronavirus information page

We ask that all residents #StayHomeSaveLives – see a Message from the Leader of the Council

Media and Publicity Protocols

In 2001, the national Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity was amended to include changes in council constitutions introduced by the Local Government Act 2000. These amendments were approved by Parliament and a new Code has been issued. Local authorities are required to ’have regard to the provisions’ of this Code in the way we approach communication. _______________________________________

The Code gives guidance on communications between communities, individual people and local authorities and aims to foster effective and impartial communication.

Principles and Protocols:

The Council undertakes to maintain a full and steady flow of information to the media to ensure

• continued public awareness of the services provided by the Council and the functions it performs;
• advance and ongoing publicity on matters of public interest;
• those affected by the Council’s decisions, policies and priorities are given the information to understand them and to have a real and informed debate about them.

The principle of accountability will be reflected in the Council’s media liaison arrangements. In particular:

• media statements on Council decisions will be made by the Leader of the Council, the committee chairman or issued on behalf of the entire Council.
• interviews on Council decisions will only be given by the Council Leader or committee chairman. The Chief Executive or relevant director may comment where appropriate.
• Councillors will be given relevant support, advice and training to enable them to play a proactive role in presenting issues to the media. The work of councillors is recognised as an important contributor to the Council’s community leadership role.
• where the corporate communications officer is asked to draft press releases or letters, such material will be of a factual nature and will contain nothing that could be construed as politically motivated or biased.
• all official press releases will be issued by the corporate communications officer in a standard format.

Whilst it is legitimate for the Council to publicise local issues, the Council will not involve itself in any publicity which appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party

The general policy of the Council is one of openness and accessibility towards the media. Regular press briefings will be held to give press the opportunity to question and challenge the Leader and Chief Executive.

Although officers will not be allowed to comment to the media on decisions, they may speak to the media within clearly defined parameters on operational and other matters. These parameters are:

• where they have been specifically delegated to speak to the media by the Leader, Chief Executive or director
• on matters of clarification with reference to officer reports
• on issues pertaining to the exercise of professional judgement.
• normally, only senior officers should speak to the media.

Council media liaison will normally be carried out via the Council’s Corporate Communications Officer.

• all the Council’s media contact will be professionally managed to meet the communication needs of the Council and of the media.
• to improve the quality of the Council’s media output and response, all necessary support/advice/training will be offered.
• all news releases will be issued by the corporate communications officer in standard format.
• incoming press calls will be fielded initially by the corporate communications officer or other designated staff who will respond on behalf of the Council.
• The corporate communications officer is empowered to make statements on behalf of the Council, presenting the Council’s position on high profile and other matters and helping build and protect the Council’s reputation.
Underpinning all aspects of this protocol is the general principal, enshrined in Government legislation that the Council will not involve itself in any publicity which appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.

Elections

The period between the notice of an election and the election itself should preclude proactive publicity in all its forms of candidates and other politicians involved directly in the election. Publicity should not deal with controversial issues or report views, proposals or recommendations in such a way that identifies them with individual members or groups of members. However, it is acceptable for the Council to respond in appropriate circumstances to events and legitimate service enquiries provided that their answers are factual and not party political. Councillors holding key political positions should be able to comment in an emergency or where there is a genuine need for a member response to an important event outside the Council’s control.