Mayor rejects moves to gag town councillors

Witney Gazette: Peter Dorward Peter Dorward

THE Mayor of Witney says he will not support policy changes that would prevent councillors from speaking to the media.

Witney Town Council has a draft new media policy that says councillors cannot provide verbal or written statements to the press “without the council’s prior written consent”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Oxford, Peter Dorward, said the new policy had been drafted by town clerk Sharon Groth due to legislative changes that allow meetings to be recorded.

He said the extract was taken from the National Association of Local Councils’ book Local Councils Explained.

Mr Dorward said: “We haven’t discussed it and it is not on our agenda at the moment.

“We may consider it but at the moment there is no change at all to our existing media official correspondence or media policy.”

When asked if he would vote to keep the clause that says councillors must seek prior written consent, he replied: “No I wouldn’t.”

Members of the town council have been given the policy to look at before it comes up for debate, expected to be at a meeting next Wednesday.

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