Twitter ban proposal at Mansfield council sparks row

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Councillors in Mansfield are fighting against a proposal to ban them from using Twitter during meetings, with MP Eric Pickles even wading in to the row.

A motion has been put forward for discussion at the upcoming full meeting of Mansfield District Council to stop members using social media ‘to ensure that members’ attention is only focused on the business of the meeting’.

Twitter is a mini-blog website that allows users to post the latest news or their thoughts online to other users.

A number of councillors at Mansfield regularly ‘tweet’ during meetings.

The motion to prevent it is being put forward by Mansfield Independent Forum’s Coun Stewart Rickersey, and has sparked a furious debate from Labour group leader, Coun Sonya Ward, ironically over Twitter.

Having flagged the issue up with Conservative MP Eric Pickles, the former secretary of state for local government, he has even backed Labour councillor’s thoughts.

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

He added that the councillors could not be stopped from using Twitter during meetings, and any motion would be ‘unenforceable’.

Speaking to the Chad, Coun Ward said: “I’m surprised by the naivety and lack of knowledge to put it forward in the first place.

“It would be a backward step and not something they can enforce anyway.

“There are other councils that had live Twitter feeds and live video feeds.

“We are little bit lacking in digital communication at Mansfield District Council and they should be looking to address that.

“It’s about opening up democracy and letting people know what is happening at meetings.”