Note: This document has been superseded by a revised version and is no longer in force.
This document has been formatted for easy accessibility as a web page. The original document can be inspected at the Lambourn Parish Council Offices by contacting the Clerk.
Lambourn Parish Council – Communication Policy 2021
The aims of this policy
Lambourn Parish Council recognises its overarching role at the heart of the community and values its unique position to be able to provide community leadership. An effective and professional communications strategy will be laid out in this document with the aims of setting a standard for engagement both within the Council and with its community. The Council recognises that the services it provides must reflect the needs of residents and the locality. As a Council, it wants to ensure that communication is two-way – telling people about the Council, and listening to the community about the services they would like to see. It will set the framework by which Councillors communicate with each other as well as with the community. The Council is committed to providing open and transparent information about its business.
Legal requirements and restrictions
This policy is subject to the Councils obligations which are set out in the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, the Local Government Act 1972, The Local Government Act 1986, The Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and other legislation which may apply to the Council’s Standing Orders and Finance Regulations. The Council cannot disclose confidential information or information the disclosure of which is prohibited by law. The Council can not disclose information if this is prohibited under the terms of a court order, by legislation, the Council’s standing orders, under contract or by common law. Councillors are subject to additional restrictions about the disclosure of confidential information which arise from the code of conduct adopted by the Council, a copy of which is available via the Councils publication scheme.
The main principles for all forms of Communication
The Parish Council will ensure that it communicates with residents in a timely and effective manner, and to inform and consult them about matters which affect the Parish. All methods of communication should:
• be polite and relevant
• be concise
• will respect confidentiality
• reflect the views of the Parish Council not the individual
• will be non-partisan
• will respect privacy laws
• not contain content that is unlawful, libelous, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or racially offensive
Methods of communication that may be used by the Parish Council
Parish Council meetings
The Parish Council Office
Email (including an email distribution list for interested residents)
Newsletter in Village Views
Social Media / Parish Council Blog
Parish Council Meetings
All Parish Council meetings are open to the press and public and under the council’s standing orders time will be set aside at each meeting of the for public comment. Residents, local organisations, West Berkshire Councillors, the local press and Thames Valley Neighbourhood police will be encouraged to attend Parish Council meetings and bring to the Council any proposals or comments they may have. It is expected that all participants in the meeting will abide by the code of conduct. Where residents bring to the Parish Council significant issues or projects that require input from the Parish Council a working group may be established consisting of interested residents and Councillors which will report back to the relevant Committee.
On occasion it may be necessary for the Council or a Committee to exclude the public if the confidential nature of the business to be discussed means their presence at the meeting may be prejudicial to the public interest.
With prior consent, photographing, recording, filming or other reporting of a meeting of the Council and its committees (which includes using a mobile phone or tablet, recording for a TV/radio broadcast, providing commentary on blogs, web forums, or social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) which enable a person not at the meeting to see, hear or be given commentary about the meeting is permitted unless (i) the meeting has resolved to hold all or part of the meeting without the public present or (ii) such activities disrupt the proceedings. The council will provide reasonable facilities to allow filming.
Intrusive lighting, use of flash photography and asking people to repeat clear statements for the purpose of recording is not permitted.
Oral reporting or oral commentary on a meeting while it is taking place is not permitted as this would disrupt the meeting.
The photographing, recording, filming or other reporting of a child or vulnerable adult at a Council or committee meeting is not permitted unless the child’s delegated responsible adult has given permission.
Any persons present should have agreed to be filmed and any members of the public present who do not wish to be filmed should be offered seating out of range of the camera, or in the case of hybrid meetings, have their camera’s switched off and name obscured.
Parish Council Office – The role of the Clerk
The Clerk forms a pivotal role as a communications link between the Parish Council and its stakeholders. It is therefore essential that all forms of correspondence must go via the Clerk with the minimum requirement of a copy to the Clerk. This will ensure that the Parish Council records are properly kept. The Clerk will provide a list of correspondence to each Committee or to the Parish Council as appropriate at the Parish Council meetings. The Clerk will respond where required to all correspondence within 5 working days, either with a full response or with details of when one of the Parish Council Committees will consider its response (the exception to this will be during periods of absence). The Parish Council Office will be open four mornings a week (Mon-Thu 9am-midday) for residents to call in and speak directly to the Clerk. At other times and if there is a matter requiring a longer discussion an appointment can be made to meet with the Clerk &/or councillors.
The Clerk will maintain an up to date noticeboard located on the front of the Memorial Hall. Contact details for the Clerk and Parish Councillors, agendas for its meetings and other information relating to Parish Council business will be displayed. Other Parish Council owned notice boards should be maintained weekly
The Parish Council email account is monitored by the Clerk during office hours ONLY. It is recognised that email is a fast and effective form of communication, especially when contacting several people with a single message. It avoids the costs of postage so should be used wherever possible to reduce these costs. However it should not be considered a suitable replacement for face to face meetings or phone calls where issues may be dealt with in a much more effective manner. In order to manage the proliferation of emails the following guidelines will be followed:
• General emails to the full Council by the Clerk will have the Subject Line starting with either: FYI or ACTION REQUIRED. This then allows Councillors to understand what is urgent.
• Unless required, the Clerk will bcc all councillors to limit “round robin” email chains therefore ensuring more efficient email communications to and from the Clerk’s office.
• The Clerk will decide on the appropriateness of forwarding emails sent to Councillors, this is most likely to be to the Chair, and then the Chair of the Committees in the first instances.
• Some emails which are of general information to the community will be included in content for the Village Views and forwarded to Lambourn.org in addition to the Councillors.
• When responding to an external email the Clerk will include a copy to appropriate Councillors if it is relating to a matter in which they are involved. The Councillor would not be expected to respond to this other than directly to the Clerk.
• Councillors should not use the ‘Reply All’ option without forethought and should think about what is being said and if it is really is relevant to everyone on the distribution list.
• When forwarding emails caution should be exercised particularly if there is a long email chain involved. What information is being forwarded and to whom?
• An email topic which changes from an original thread should not “piggy back” off another thread, rather a new email should be started.
• It is not appropriate for draft documents circulated by email to be forwarded outside the Parish Council unless it is to an individual directly involved with the project.
All post is received by the Clerk who will ensure that it is opened promptly and dealt with in an appropriate manner.
The Parish Council office telephone will be answered during office hours by the Clerk who will be expected to deal in a professional manner with all incoming calls. An answer machine is installed to receive messages when the Clerk is not available or the office is closed. The Clerk will check for messages each work day and return calls promptly where a number has been left.
The Parish Council will maintain an up to date website in line with their responsibilities as set out in government legislation. The Parish Council managed website will include the following information:
• Details of Parish Council Meetings – Schedule, Agendas and Minutes
• Details of each Committee and its responsibilities
• Contact details for the Councillors and the Clerk.
• Finance Reports
• Details of any significant on-going projects with up to date reports Additional information may be added as and when deemed appropriate by the Clerk. The Council will nominate one of the Councillors to work with the Clerk to be responsible for maintaining the content of the website.
Newsletter content for the Village Views
The Parish Council will provide content of which will be determined by the Clerk and the Chair and can include content written by the Councillors and other local organisations.
The Parish Council may consider using social media sites on occasion where it feels this will benefit the public. This will be in the form of creating a profile and not maintaining a Page. The Clerk or a nominated Councillor will be responsible for posting anything relating to Parish Council business on social media sites once the content has been agreed with the Chair or relevant Committee. These forums will only be used for the dissemination of information and the Parish Council will not engage in online ‘chat’. Where possible, an automated message will be used to direct correspondence with the Parish Council to the Clerk via email, phone or letter. Any Parish Councillor who has their own social media accounts whilst free to express their views should use them with caution and always make it clear that their opinions are their own and not those of the Parish Council when commenting on issues relating to Lambourn or Parish Council business. Social media may be used to
• Raise awareness of Parish Council decisions
• Advertise events and activities in which the Parish Council is involved
• Publicise important meetings such as public consultations
• Raise awareness of important local issues
• Advertise vacancies A Social Media Management Platform may be engaged by the Parish Council to manage multiple platforms.
The press are invited to attend all meetings of the Parish Council and will be provided with an agenda and minutes of previous meetings. The Clerk will be the main point of contact for the press and may contact the media if the Council wants to provide information or make a statement relating to its business. The Clerk will consult with the Chair, Vice-Chair or Chair of the relevant Committee regarding the content of any press release. It is important that all information shared with the press is accurate and represents to policies and views of the Parish Council. If a Councillor is interviewed the views expressed should be those of the Parish Council and the Council’s code of conduct followed. Information of a confidential or slanderous nature must never be disclosed.
What Lambourn Parish Council asks its residents to do
To actively review the notice boards and/or the parish council website and/or the local newspaper and/or the parish newsletter for information about meetings and events on a regular basis. To recognise engagement opportunities and utilise them by responding to surveys, letters, questionnaires etc. To address comments, suggestions or complaints by email; or by telephone; or in writing, using contact information available on the Parish Council website and displayed on the village notice boards. Alternatively to attend the monthly Parish Council meeting and make use of the public forum
Document Control Information
Document owner: Lambourn Parish Council
Version number: V1
Approval Date: 2 June 2021
Approved By: Full Council
Review cycle: Annual
Date of next review: #Review 2022-07