Lambourn Parish CouncilCommunication Policy

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. The Council recognises that the services it provides must reflect the needs of residents and the locality and that as elected representatives of the residents, both the council and the councillors must have effective two way dialogue with the residents.

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
  • respect confidentiality respect privacy laws
  • reflect the views of the Parish Council not the individual
  • be non-partisan
  • not contain content that is unlawful, libelous, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or racially offensive

Methods of communication used by the Parish Council

  • The Parish Council Website
  • Parish Council Meetings
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Parish Noticeboard
  • Post
  • Press Releases
  • Social Media
  • Public Meetings

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 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. All participants in the meeting will abide by the code of conduct set out in the Standing Orders.

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.

Private Meetings with external bodies

Private meetings arranged between representatives of the Council and other organisations enable the Council to liaise with these organisations on specific matters. Such meetings must be reported to the Council and representatives should adhere to the policy of the Council. There shall be no decision making by individuals at such meetings.

Private Councillor Meetings

As elected representatives, Councillors are expected and encouraged to communicate proactively with residents. Councillors must be mindful that they may not make or communicate commitments or decisions outside the framework of the committee structure as set out in the Procedures and Policies of the Council. Councillors may and should only communicate facts which are in the public domain. Making unauthorised commitments or releasing unauthorised information may result in legal action against the councillor.

Parish Council Office – The role of the Clerk

The Clerk has a key role as a communications link between the Parish Council and its stakeholders. It is therefore essential that correspondence which is material to the operation, work or decision making of the Council must go via the Clerk. Decisions of the Council will be communicated to external parties only via the clerk or authorised deputy.

Notice board/s

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.

Email

Email is the method of choice for Council communications as it saves both time and money and provides a clear audit trail. Therefore, all communications, including agendas for Council meetings, will be sent by email. In exceptional circumstances councillors will be contacted by letter post when email is not possible / available.

The Clerk should be copied on all material emails.

Councillor Email addresses – All Councillors must ensure that the email accounts they use are secure and that they have sole access to the account. Emails should be retained for a period of 3 years for audit purposes.

Councillor Communications by Email – When Councillors communicate with each other by email, they should use the “Reply All” option to ensure that all Councillors are fully aware of all the information which is pertinent to them and the point under discussion.

Where an item is linked to standard Council Committee business, committee members should communicate with each other rather than all Council members. However, if it is felt that the matter is of some importance or is contentious in any way, the full Council membership will be informed of the business in hand.

This policy does preclude private and or personal communications between Councillors and/or officers in the daily running of the Council.

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.

Post

All post is received by the Clerk who will ensure that it is opened promptly and dealt with in an appropriate manner. Where appropriate, documents received by post will be scanned and circulated and filed in electronic format.

Telephone

The Parish Council office telephone will be answered during office hours by the Clerk. 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.

Website

The Parish Council will maintain an up to date website in line with their responsibilities as set out in government legislation. This includes, however is not limited to:

  • Details of Parish Council Meetings – Schedule, Agendas and Minutes
  • Policies and procedures
  • Details of each Committee and its responsibilities
  • Contact details for the Councillors and the Clerk.
  • Finance and Audit Reports
  • Press Releases
  • 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.

Press Releases

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 or Vice-Chair of the relevant Committee regarding the content of any press release. All press releases will also be posted on the Lambourn Parish Council Website.

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 nature must never be disclosed.

Social Media

Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will only be used for the dissemination of factual information. 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

All Parish Council social media interaction will be from authorised Lambourn Parish Council social media accounts and will be managed by the Clerk and/or an authorised delegate. All posts will be limited to factual information about the Council and its business and social media will NOT be used to interact, answer questions, express opinions nor issue ‘likes’.

A Councillor or Employee who uses personal social media accounts to communicate about the work they do or a Council service, should make it clear that they are speaking for themselves and not on behalf of the Council. They should use a disclaimer such as: “The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Lambourn Parish Council.”

Document Control Information
Document owner: Lambourn Parish Council
Version number: V2 (Final)
Approval Date: 5 January 2022
Approved By: Full Council
Review cycle: Annual
Previous Version: Communication Policy V1

Skip to content