IF WITNEY town councillors approve the draft media policy they are being asked to consider, it would, in effect, gag them.

It would prevent the councillors from commenting to the media about the business of the council without written permission.

That, simply, is not democracy.

Those councillors have been elected by the public and spend your money.

If a councillor does not agree with something that affects their electors, then democracy demands that he or she should be free to give their view.

You may think this does not really matter, because it is “just” a town council, but it is a core principle.

To prevent that without approval from the powers that be is effectively totalitarianism, because it is stopping public debate.

It is routine for our reporters to call councillors and ask them about decisions, many of which can split opinions.

This is why a number of other councils we have spoken to say they would not consider implementing a policy that effectively undermines free speech.

When they come to discuss this policy next month, it is important the council remembers its responsibilities to democracy, as well as those who elected them.

Freedom to communicate is a central part of this and anything that departs from this must not be tolerated.