Twitter debate has councillors in a flap

By Rob George 29/03 Updated: 29/03 16:25

CITY councillors moved a step closer to giving the green-light to tweeting during certain council meetings after a debate on Tuesday (March 27).

But the thorny issue divided members of Worcester City Council during the discussion on the use of Twitter in the council chamber.

The use of the popular social networking site and the wider issue of the role social media should play in the council's revised constitution were discussed as part of a full council meeting.

The debate was initially sparked last July when Coun Jabba Riaz (Cons, Cathedral) was banned from tweeting during a full council meeting, despite his insistence he was trying to engage young people in local politics.

And Tuesday's meeting saw a wide variety of views with a number of councillors expressing support for the use of social media but concern over tweeting during meetings.

Coun Paul Denham (Lab, Rainbow Hill) said: "I think this is a reasonable way forward and all of us want to ensure as much information is shared with the electorate as possible."

He added the use of mobile phones during meetings to tweet did concern him but said the matter should be decided by the chairman of each committee meeting.

Coun Mark Bayliss (Cons, Bedwardine) said if tweeting was allowed in the House of Commons then he was happy with it being used in the council chamber.

His view was echoed by Coun Riaz who said: "Technology has moved on, we are moving with it so serious consideration has to be made."

However, Labour group leader Coun Adrian Gregson (Lab, Rainbow Hill) proposed an outright ban and said the authority should direct its focus on other forms of technology.

"If this council is committed to openness, well then why not just spend money on a webcast?" he said.

"If you cannot commit to a two hour council meeting without having to play with something with your thumbs then I am not sure why you are here."

A majority of councillors agreed to back a proposal from deputy leader Coun Roger Knight (Cons, St Peter's) to refer the matter to the group revising the constitution but suggest a twitter ban during some meetings where key decisions were being made.

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