Our communications approach
For all communications we issue, we work to ensure that we follow the government's code of recommended practice on local authority publicity.
Our communications team helps the council and officers to communicate effectively with our communities - from informing people of a change to their bin collection day, through to promoting local services to our residents.
The team is directly responsible for increasing awareness and take-up of council services and improving the profile of the district.
Code of practice
We conform to the government's Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity (made under the Local Government Act 2000). This code covers the rules around content and style of publicity, dissemination, advertising, promotion of individual councillors and restrictions during the election period. Paragraph 20 of the code says:
"The main purposes of local authority publicity are to increase public awareness of the services provided by the authority and the functions it performs to allow local people to have a real and informed say about issues that affect them, to explain to electors and ratepayers the reasons for particular policies and priorities; and in general to improve local accountability."
We face more legal restrictions than private bodies when it comes to external publicity. Most importantly, we cannot publish material which appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.
The Secretary of State has also issued statutory guidance under the Local Government Act 2000 which the council follows. The guidance emphasises that the role of publicity is informative and should be well balanced and objective.
It notes that local authorities should not 'mount publicity campaigns whose primary purpose is to persuade the public to hold a particular view on a question of policy'.
This should not stop the council from conducting consultation exercises, promoting effective and efficient use of local services, attracting tourists and investment, or influencing public behaviour on such matters as crime prevention or equal opportunities.
Councillors are subject to a statutory code of conduct and the government. We are also mindful of our obligations under other laws of statute that also affect communications, including:
- The Data Protection Act (2008)
- The Disability Discrimination Act (1995)
- The Freedom of Information Act (2000)
- The Human Rights Act (1998)
- The Race Relations Act (1976)
- The Sex Discrimination Act (1975)
- The Representation of the People Act 1983
- The law relating to defamation
To find out more, please email us.