Woking Borough Council Social Media Policy EXE20-057
The report before the Council recommended the adoption of the Woking Borough Council Social Media Policy. A number of concerns over the Policy were raised by Members, including its status as a policy rather than guidance, reference to documents yet to be adopted and the possibility of misunderstandings. It was moved by Councillor Morales and seconded by Councillor Howard that the Policy should be deferred to allow for an opportunity for all Members to provide feedback on the proposals. The suggestion was supported by Members and it was
That determination of the Social Media Policy be deferred to allow for further consideration in light of feedback from Councillors.
Reporting Person – Peter Bryant
The Executive received a report which recommended to Council the adoption of the Woking Borough Council Social Media Policy. Discussion ensued on Section 6 of the Social Media Policy which related to Elected Member use of social media. Following a question regarding how the Policy related to the Members’ Code of Conduct, the Executive was informed that the Policy cross referenced the Code of Conduct in Section 6 of the Policy. The Director of Legal and Democratic Services, Peter Bryant, explained that a breach of the Social Media Policy would not automatically constitute a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct as it would depend upon the nature of the breach and whether it constituted a breach of one of the core elements of the Code. In order to provide greater clarity to Members, consideration would be given to taking to the Standards and Audit Committee a Standards Protocol in relation to the Social Media Policy which would expand on what constituted a breach of the Code of Conduct. It was noted that the usual sanctions would be available if a breach of the Code was deemed to have occurred.
The practical difficulties of Members separating their personal and public life on social media was discussed. The Executive was advised that the Policy related to the subject matter of social media posts and not the social media profile used when posting. It was agreed that further discussion between the Portfolio Holder and Officers would be held on the issue before Council on 15 October 2020.
REcommended to Council
That (i) the Council adopts the Social Media Policy, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report, with effect from 16 October 2020; and
(ii) the Marketing Communications Manager, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, be delegated authority to make minor amendments to the Policy.
Reason: This policy will help employees and Members to use social media effectively without inadvertently placing themselves in a situation where the appropriateness of their conduct is called into question.