Mansfield councillors banned from using social media in meetings

Mansfield Civic Centre.
Mansfield Civic Centre.

Mansfield councillors are now officially banned from using mobiles and social media during meetings after an ongoing row over the use of Twitter.

A vote, which took place at a meeting at the civic centre last night (September 23), ruled members of Mansfield District Council are no longer allowed to publish on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook during their meetings.

The motion was brought forward, stating banning personal social media as a ‘mark of respect’ for the Mayor, chairman and members of the council ‘to ensure that members’ attention is only focused on the business of the meeting’.

The heated debates began last week about Twitter, which is a mini-blog website that allows users to post the latest news or their thoughts online to other users.

A number of councillors, who regularly ‘tweet’ during meetings, have been left “outraged” by the motion.

Labour Councillor Sonya Ward said the motion was a “backward step” and that tweeting during meetings helps councillors to let the people of Mansfield know what is happening in the meetings.

Coun Ward said: “I want to be writing these kinds of things on Twitter to keep people in the know.

“It’s a real shame that we have a complete council and what they choose to bring to the council meetings is this.”

The Councillor also involved conservative MP Eric Pickles, the former secretary of state for local government, who has backed her thoughts.

He said on Twitter: “MPs can tweet from the Commons chamber, to stop a cllr tweeting in a meeting is pompous.”

Pickles also added that this type of motion would be ‘unenforceable’, as they cannot be stopped from tweeting.

This motion was put forward by Mansfield Independent Forum’s Coun Stewart Rickersey, who originally sparked the debate with Coun Ward over Twitter.

The motion was supported by Councillor Nick Bennet, who recently defected from the Labour Party to join the Mansfield Independent Forum.

He said councillors who use their phones in meetings are “disrespectful” for not giving their full attention.

“The should do it in their own spare time,” he said.