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Communications Policy

Reviewed & Adopted 19/01/2021 Gainsborough Town Council

Communications Policy

Town Council Correspondence

  1. The point of contact for the Town Council is the Clerk, and it is to the Clerk that all correspondence for the town Council should be addressed.
  2. The Clerk or other appropriate Officer should deal with all correspondence following a meeting.
  3. No individual Councillor or Officer should be the sole custodian of any correspondence or information in the name of the Town Council, a committee, sub-committee or working party.  In particular, Councillors and Officers do not have a right to obtain confidential information/documentation unless they can demonstrate a ‘need to know’.
  4. All official correspondence should be sent by the Clerk in the name of the Council using Council letter headed paper save for where correspondence by way of e-mail is appropriate in the circumstances.
  5. Where correspondence from the Clerk to a Councillor is copied to another person, the addressee should be made aware that a copy is being forwarded to that other person (e.g. copy to XX).

Agenda Items for Council, Committees, Sub-Committees and Working Parties

a)         Agendas should be clear and concise.  They should contain sufficient information to enable Councillors to make an informed decision, and for the public to understand what matters are being considered and what decisions are to be taken at a meeting.

b)         Items for information should be kept to a minimum on an agenda.

c)         Where the Clerk or a Councillor wishes fellow Councillors to receive matters for “information only”, this information will be circulated via the Clerk.

Communications with the Press and Public

a)         The Clerk will clear all press reports, or comments to the media, with the Chair of the Council or the Chair of the relevant committee, as may be agreed previously by the Council.

b)         Press reports from the Council, its committees or working parties should be from the Clerk or an officer or via the reporter’s own attendance at a meeting.

c)         Unless a Councillor has been authorised by the Council to speak to the media on a particular issue, Councillors who are asked for comment by the press should make it clear that it is a personal view and     ask that it be clearly reported as their personal view. 

d)         Unless a Councillor is absolutely certain that he/she is reporting the view of the Council, they must make it clear to members of the public that they are expressing a personal view.

e)         If Councillors receive a complaint from a member of the public, this should be dealt with under the Council’s adopted complaints procedure, or via a Council agenda item. 

Councillor communications with external parties

a)         All communication with external parties should be via the Clerk unless the Council has resolved otherwise at a previous meeting (i.e. in exceptional circumstances such as a Councillor with a specialist skill).

b)         Any Member or appropriate Officer authorised to contact other parties on behalf of the Council shall be named in the minutes.

c)         As the Clerk would normally be tasked with sending Council correspondence to all other bodies, where a Councillor is authorised to communicate directly on behalf of the Council, it must be made clear that any   such correspondence is written in their official capacity and has been previously authorised by the Town Council.

d)         A copy of all outgoing correspondence relating to the Council or a Councillor’s role within it, should be  sent to the Clerk, and it be noted on the correspondence, e.g. “copy to the Clerk” so that the recipient is  aware that the Clerk has been advised.

Communications with Town Council Staff

a)         Councillors must not give instructions to any member of staff, unless authorised to do so (for example,  three or more Councillors sitting as a committee or sub-committee with appropriate delegated powers    from the Council).

b)         No individual Councillor, regardless of whether or not they are the Chair of the Council, the Chair of a  committee or other meeting, or are styled “Leader” of the Council, may give instructions to the Clerk or to another employee which are inconsistent or conflict with Council decisions or arrangements for delegated  power.

c)         Telephone calls should be relevant to the work of the Town Council, and conducted in an appropriate and professional manner.  

d)         E-mails:

  • Instant replies should not be expected from the Clerk; reasons for urgency should be stated;
  • Information to Councillors should normally be directed via the Clerk;
  • E-mails from Councillors to external parties should be copied to the Clerk;
  • Councillors should acknowledge their e-mails when requested to do so.

e)         Meetings with the Clerk or other officers:

  • Wherever possible an appointment should be made;
  • Meetings should be relevant to the work of that particular officer;
  • Councillors should be clear that the matter is legitimate Council business and not matters driven by personal or political agendas.
  • Meetings should be conducted in an appropriate and professional manner.