IT’S back to the drawing board for council’s media policy.
A Fairfax Media poll showed 85 per cent of respondents are concerned about the policy, that would dub mayor Simon Murray the primary spokesperson of Armidale Regional Council.
Local government law expert Dr Lindsay Taylor was called to workshops in February to discuss the policy with councillors.
“The media policy reflects good governance practices inline with the Office of Local Government requirements and as Dr Taylor explained to councillors does not impede councillors freedom of speech,” a council spokeswoman said.
The Express can confirm the policy is now being reviewed and changed by Dr Taylor and will come before council again at the meeting in March.
The controversial issue divided some councillors and council staff.
Mayor Simon Murray said previously that it was not an attempt to stop transparency, rather that the mayor is commonly the spokesperson of council.
Cr Ian Tiley agreed, saying he felt it was important that councillors do their talking in the chamber.
The Express asked the spokeswoman if the media policy would go back on public exhibition if significant changes were made.
Council was also asked how many submissions were made by the community, what the general feeling was and if Dr Taylor is making changes to the policy, but the spokeswoman said she could not make comment on an issue that will go before council for consideration.
Councillors Margaret O’Connor, Debra O’Brien and Dorothy Robinson have previously criticised the policy, which they feel would prohibit them from speaking on local issues even with justifiable concerns.
The document states that councillors will “protect and enhance” council’s reputation, “support Council’s official decisions” and ensure their interactions with the media, including on social media, are appropriate.
Councillors can talk to the media with the permission of the mayor and media policies are a matter for individual councils.
Submissions on the policy closed on January 22.