Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fun and games and front pages - EDITED

(Dear Reader, I have edited this post in the light of further information put to me by the Western Morning News. Originally, I made an accusation about the working methods of a reporter which was based on information told to me by the Taxpayers Alliance. The Taxpayers Alliance had also made these claims publicly on at least one blog. However, the WMN has assured me that the claims are false and I am happy to accept these assurances, to alter the post that follows and to apologise to the WMN and to the journalist concerned.)

Apart from being able to get serious with the debate on parking charges, most of my day today has been taken up with the silly story about the use of twitter in the council chamber.

My view is that Twitter and other tools are a useful way of communicating with those who are interested in the goings on at the Council. Like other tools, Twitter can be mis-used and can take up your whole time if you let it. My duty, as a councillor, is to represent my constituents in the best way possible. I believe that Twitter can help me do that, but I make sure that I only use it at appropriate times and in appropriate ways.

As I have blogged before, Cornwall Council is adopting a very forward thinking social media policy and I would hate to think that this silliness could damage progress in that area. Cornwall Council (as all local authorities) needs to try to shed the image of being stuffy and out of touch and it is going about this in the right way.

I very much regret that the Western Morning News have chosen to write up the story in the way that they have. They make a number of claims which I believe are inaccurate - some small, some much more serious. I am taking this matter up with the paper.

I am also very concerned that the Taxpayers Alliance should have commented in the way that they have. I think it is more than a little hypocritical if they are criticising councillors for tweeting during meetings when they themselves were using Twitter to communicate with a Cornwall Councillor to get updates on what was happening during the debate.

On the positive side, I have commented on Radio Cornwall and recorded an interview for BBC Spotlight explaining how councillors can use modern technology to keep in touch with residents.

UPDATE - You can hear my contribution to the Laurence Reed programme here - scroll forward to about 1hr 47 mins.

NEXT DAY UPDATE - The issue made it onto Spotlight last night as predicted and today was on the Chris Evans Show on Radio 2. Balance of debate that I have seen seems supportive (including great blog from Editor of the Cornishman).

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