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Councillors warned to watch what they tweet

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 03, 2014

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COUNCILLORS in Burton have been warned to behave on social media following a series of controversial posts.

A new online code of conduct has been drawn up, with councillors being urged to bear in mind that what they write on websites such as Facebook and Twitter can be seen by the public they represent.

It comes after East Staffordshire Borough Council leader Julian Mott quit Twitter last month following a spat with opposition Tory members, who poked fun at him and criticised his leadership.

He had been posting daily updates of developments at Burton Town Hall on the site but has been absent since April after saying he hoped signing up to Twitter would ‘create debate’ but instead led to ‘fabrications, insults and rudeness’.

A complaint was also made after an image depicting Councillor Mott as a monkey and fellow Labour member Bill Ganley an organ grinder was mocked up by Tory councillor and former East Staffordshire mayor Len Milner.

Labour members were accused of lacking a sense of humour but in an age when what is wrote online is intensely scrutinised, councillors’ online presence is being monitored by bosses.

They have also been told to consider imposing stringent privacy settings if they wish to keep posts away from the eyes of the press and public.

The code of conduct states councillors must treat others with respect, avoid personal attacks and not make disrespectful, rude or offensive comments.

A borough council report said: ”In the light of increased use of social media, including by councillors, it is considered that specific guidance on the issue would be helpful.”

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