Councils must ignore ‘Stalinist’ press policy

Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles

First published in News

Minister Eric Pickles has urged parish councils to dismiss new “Stalinist” guidelines that prevent councillors speaking to the media without official consent.

The Local Government secretary’s comments come after Witney Town Council drafted a new media policy based on the guidelines by the National Association of Local Councils.

Mr Pickles said: “Councillors must be able to challenge waste and inefficiency, and should not have to get permission from state officials to speak to the press.

“I am concerned this Stalinist guidance will have a chilling effect on public life.”

The town council, which is yet to vote on the policy, could not be reached for comment.




Our top stories:

Six 'all clear' women told they have cancer after investigation into Oxfordshire Breast Screening Service assessments

Oxford Mail:

7:40am Thursday 18th December 2014

SIX women who were given the all clear after breast cancer screening have been told they have the disease following an investigation.

Man 'exposed himself' to woman at bus stop in St Clement's

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:02am Thursday 18th December 2014

A MAN who exposed himself to a woman in Headington is being sought by police.

Voting public save the Jack FM Christmas turkeys from being butchered

Oxford Mail:

10:04am Thursday 18th December 2014

THE FATE of two turkeys on an Oxfordshire farm this Christmas was decided by an online poll by radio station JACKfm.

Oxford United's young guns relishing Manchester City clash

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Thursday 18th December 2014

OXFORD United’s rising stars will get a taste of the big time tonight as they attempt a giant-killing against Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup (7).

Candlelight vigil in Oxford for victims of Peshawar massacre

Oxford Mail:

9:10am Thursday 18th December 2014

FAMILIES gathered by candlelight at a vigil for youngsters and their teachers targeted in a Taliban terrorist attack.

Work on Banbury Road footpaths to take place

Oxford Mail:

9:10am Thursday 18th December 2014

Resurfacing of the footpaths alongside Banbury Road is set to take place this week after a gas leak.

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:12am Sat 21 Jun 14

C ARINGAROSA says...

I completely agree with Mr Pickles, councillors must remember that they are servants of the electorate, not their masters. If they dare to forget this then they should be awarded" The most excellent order of the Boot" at the council elections next year. So wake up people of Witney, your time is coming to make your views known, don't blow it.If in doubt kick em out.
C. Aringarosa, Corn Street, Witney.
I completely agree with Mr Pickles, councillors must remember that they are servants of the electorate, not their masters. If they dare to forget this then they should be awarded" The most excellent order of the Boot" at the council elections next year. So wake up people of Witney, your time is coming to make your views known, don't blow it.If in doubt kick em out. C. Aringarosa, Corn Street, Witney. C ARINGAROSA
  • Score: 4

9:58am Sat 21 Jun 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

the National Association of Local Councils-pointless quango. Get rid.
the National Association of Local Councils-pointless quango. Get rid. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 4

11:26am Sat 21 Jun 14

cbm says...

What happens if a councillor disagrees with a policy - are they "gagged" as they have to get permission to talk to the press about the issue? Councillors cannot vote on something that affects their wards as they have a "prejudicial interest" (eg they cannot vote in any planning application that involves one of their constituents) - will they now not allowed to discuss it openly in the press? I found the last sentence of the article very amusing - and perhaps showing the policy is already in place!!!
What happens if a councillor disagrees with a policy - are they "gagged" as they have to get permission to talk to the press about the issue? Councillors cannot vote on something that affects their wards as they have a "prejudicial interest" (eg they cannot vote in any planning application that involves one of their constituents) - will they now not allowed to discuss it openly in the press? I found the last sentence of the article very amusing - and perhaps showing the policy is already in place!!! cbm
  • Score: 3

12:50pm Sat 21 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

cbm wrote:
What happens if a councillor disagrees with a policy - are they "gagged" as they have to get permission to talk to the press about the issue? Councillors cannot vote on something that affects their wards as they have a "prejudicial interest" (eg they cannot vote in any planning application that involves one of their constituents) - will they now not allowed to discuss it openly in the press? I found the last sentence of the article very amusing - and perhaps showing the policy is already in place!!!
It's never been made clear what the consequences are if an elected councillor breaks the "press office" rules.

Will it trigger a fresh election? Could it reach the state where an election is held every few weeks with the same councillor being elected then speaks to press then banned...

Perhaps even two parish councils running in parallel.
[quote][p][bold]cbm[/bold] wrote: What happens if a councillor disagrees with a policy - are they "gagged" as they have to get permission to talk to the press about the issue? Councillors cannot vote on something that affects their wards as they have a "prejudicial interest" (eg they cannot vote in any planning application that involves one of their constituents) - will they now not allowed to discuss it openly in the press? I found the last sentence of the article very amusing - and perhaps showing the policy is already in place!!![/p][/quote]It's never been made clear what the consequences are if an elected councillor breaks the "press office" rules. Will it trigger a fresh election? Could it reach the state where an election is held every few weeks with the same councillor being elected then speaks to press then banned... Perhaps even two parish councils running in parallel. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

4:48pm Sat 21 Jun 14

Myron Blatz says...

Really hate to say this, but for once I agree with comrade Pickles! From what I know of NALC, it is a quango which lives with the fairies - though in fairness, that also sums-up several Parish Councils I have had the pleasure of knowing, in my lifetime! This also smells of the likes of Labour in Oxford, which is very sele tive and careful about who says anything to either the Press, or Oxford Mail, except for Cllr Tanner, who always seems to be giving his opinion - or maybe what he says really is the official Labour view? Now there's a really frihtening thought!
Really hate to say this, but for once I agree with comrade Pickles! From what I know of NALC, it is a quango which lives with the fairies - though in fairness, that also sums-up several Parish Councils I have had the pleasure of knowing, in my lifetime! This also smells of the likes of Labour in Oxford, which is very sele tive and careful about who says anything to either the Press, or Oxford Mail, except for Cllr Tanner, who always seems to be giving his opinion - or maybe what he says really is the official Labour view? Now there's a really frihtening thought! Myron Blatz
  • Score: 2

10:54pm Sat 21 Jun 14

the wizard says...

Would like to know Cllr Dorwards take on what Pickles has said on this article. new lady Mayor seems to be all in favour of the new, lets keep them in the dark, policy. They both seem to forget , we the public voted them in and we can also vote them and their attitudes towards their public, OUT.

I don't usually agree with Pickles but in all fairness I think he has this about right.. Some of these guys once they have a position think, or like to think , they are above the public that put them there, and their degree of smugness and contempt is deplorable and non acceptable. That point really does need to get hammered home.
Would like to know Cllr Dorwards take on what Pickles has said on this article. new lady Mayor seems to be all in favour of the new, lets keep them in the dark, policy. They both seem to forget , we the public voted them in and we can also vote them and their attitudes towards their public, OUT. I don't usually agree with Pickles but in all fairness I think he has this about right.. Some of these guys once they have a position think, or like to think , they are above the public that put them there, and their degree of smugness and contempt is deplorable and non acceptable. That point really does need to get hammered home. the wizard
  • Score: 1

11:21am Sun 22 Jun 14

Quentin Walker says...

"...The town council, which is yet to vote on the policy, could not be reached for comment..." And even if it could be reached, it probably wouldn't comment!
"...The town council, which is yet to vote on the policy, could not be reached for comment..." And even if it could be reached, it probably wouldn't comment! Quentin Walker
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree