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Twitter row at Wrexham Council meeting

Published date: 12 December 2012 |
Published by: Liam Randall
Read more articles by Liam Randall


Cllr Arfon Jones was taken to one side and told he could not use Twitter 

A ROW has broken out after a councillor was rebuked for tweeting.

Cllr Arfon Jones – the only Plaid Cymru councillor left on Wrexham Council after May’s elections – was taken to one side and told he could not use Twitter.

Wrexham Council chief executive Dr Helen Paterson had to remind the councillor use of social media during meetings was against Standing Orders.

Cllr Jones said nothing about the issue during yesterday’s executive board meeting at the Guildhall but later on Twitter he wrote: “Imagine you are an elected member in a public meeting and you want to tell people quite legitimately what is going on... but you are banned from doing so and if you do you breach the Code of Conduct for using electronic means (Twitter). Absurd.”

At the meeting the Wrexham Council Press and public relations team were monitoring the Wrexham Council Twitter account. Press officer Gill Stevens noticed Cllr Jones had been tweeting updates on proceedings from his phone and reported the matter to Dr Paterson.

Outside the room Dr Paterson advised Cllr Jones that under the council’s constitution live transmission from meetings was not permitted without prior consent from the chairman.

Labour council leader Neil Rogers later told colleagues: “I’m concerned some members have been tweeting during the meeting this afternoon.

“Standing Order 45 of the council constitution prohibits transmission from meetings without prior permission from the chair.

“Cllr Arfon Jones has been ejected from the meeting after he was found tweeting.
“I am annoyed I wasn’t asked as chair and I would please plead that it doesn’t happen again.”

However, Cllr Jones has disputed Cllr Rogers’ version of events and said he was not ejected from the meeting.

He said: “I was invited outside by the chief executive who advised me that I shouldn’t tweet as it as it was against the constitution. I then went back in and later left of my own accord after the item on subsidised transport, which I always had every intention of leaving after.”

He added: “It’s about time we revised the consitution to allow members and visitors to use social media during meetings to aid openness and transparency.”

It later emerged that talks aimed at altering the constitution have been taking place between the council’s officers.

Standing order 45 of Wrexham Council’s constitution entitled ‘Photograph and Recording at Meetings’ states: “Proceedings at meetings may not be photographed, videoed, sound recorded or transmitted in any way outside the meeting without prior permission of the chair.

Tweeting is now allowed in Parliament, in the Senedd in Cardiff and in courts.

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  1. Posted by: baldybouncer at 14:42 on 12 December 2012 Report

    Good on the Cllr Jones for passing information to the people who voted for him! A council works for the people who live in the town and pay council tax - it should be transparrent. Well Done!

  2. Posted by: worldsgonemad at 19:07 on 12 December 2012 Report

    Obviously a flagrant abuse of the rules. Cllr Arfon Jones should concentrate on the meeting & switch off any toys he has in his possession.

  3. Posted by: liberty1 at 19:44 on 12 December 2012 Report

    Rules are rules, if Mr Jones is not aware of the rules then that is down to incompetence on his part or stupidity if he was aware. He could campaign for a change in the rules or resign and give up his allowance/expences.

  4. Posted by: philgwersyllt at 21:57 on 12 December 2012 Report

    The rules were designed to deal with photography and video, or the actual recording of the proceedings, but have been extended (incorrectly it seems) to include tweeting. Tweeting isn't transmitting the proceedings, it's merely one person commenting on them, and could be done as soon as the meeting ended anyway. One wonders what some council members have to hide.

  5. Posted by: Y Ffin at 00:22 on 13 December 2012 Report

    The problem with people tweeting in council meetings is that they will inevitably be 'grinding their own axes' rather than being transparent. the inevitable petty point scoring won't do much to enhance local democracy and will be a distraction from proper debate and thoughtful decision making. There are better ways to ensure accountability and transparency.

  6. Posted by: alidyl73 at 08:57 on 13 December 2012 Report

    Rules are rules, they are in place for a reason. I'm just surprised that this Cllr. can muli task, paying attention to what was going on in the meeting and tweeting at the same time. His brain must have hurt.

  7. Posted by: truth hurts at 16:31 on 13 December 2012 Report

    Jones flip-flops to suit himself. A PC councillor in the 'independent' group so he could salvage his little perks when his group got shattered at the elections. His inflated self opinion borders on narcissism, he needs to get a grip on the fact that he's simply one of the councillors for Gwersyllt, he is not the UK ambassador to the UN

  8. Posted by: sandrobe2001 at 10:13 on 14 December 2012 Report

    If Tweeting IS allowed in Westminster, Cardiff and the Courts, WHAT HAS WREXHAM CBC got to HIDE?

  9. Posted by: jbsandown at 17:37 on 14 December 2012 Report

    Cllr Jones does a great service to the cause of fair-play in our town halls. Its time Wrexham faced up to its responsibility to open up their meetings to full reporting and accountability. If our National Assembly can allow the public freedom to observe, comment and unobtrusively record anything that is open to public attendance -why should councils in Wales treat stakeholder representatives with disdain! Wrexham council's "standing-orders" should be dragged into the 21st century immediately!

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