Councillors oppose media guidelines

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Morley councillors have reacted to new guidance on media relations that they believe could be bad for democracy.

Under new guidance from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), journalists would not be able to contact parish and town councillors directly, instead needing permission from a town clerk.

Morley would be particularly vulnerable to this rule, as Morley Town Council, Gildersome Parish Council and Drighlington Parish Council would all fall under this.

Morley councillor Robert Finnigan said: “Councillors are elected to represent their communities and that also means having an open and transparent relationship with the media.

“As elected officials we are accountable to our electorate and that means answering difficult questions if asked and providing information and reports on what we are up to.

“The more information is controlled by a council the more disillusioned the electorate becomes and our job is to engage them more, not make them more cynical.”

Coun Bob Gettings added: “I am not controlled by either national associations or political party whips. The only things that are taken into consideration are the views of my colleagues on what is good for the Morley Borough area.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said this month: “I am concerned that this Stalinist guidance will have a chilling effect on public life. Its contents are utterly opposed by the Government and it should be withdrawn immediately. We should be championing the independent free press, not trying to suppress it.”