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Don't tweet when you're angry: Telford & Wrekin councillors to be given social media training

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Councillors are to be ordered: "Do not post comments on social media if you are angry, tired or in a bad mood".

Members of Telford & Wrekin Council could be given training on how to use social media following complaints about its use by some councillors.

A report will be put before the council's standards committee later this month asking members to consider whether or not the existing social media protocol for councillors needs to be reviewed.

It also recommends that an officer provides training on the use of social media, including the legal ramifications of misusing it.

The report by Jonathan Eatough, Telford & Wrekin Council's assistant director of governance, states there have been complaints from fellow councillors and members of the public about comments on social media.

It says: "The key areas where complaints have arisen is in relation to exchanges between councillors and complaints from members of the public who have alleged overly personal attacks."

The report says none of the complaints have been referred for investigation, although one complaint is "pending following suggested local resolution".

Costs of any training would be covered in existing budgets.

It would offer practical tips for effective use of social media and explain the legal implications of going too far.

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The existing social media protocol for councillors suggests being clear when making comments in a private capacity and deleting defamatory or obscene posts from others.

It also includes advice on not posting comments in haste, especially if councillors are "angry, tired or in a bad mood".

The report adds: "The use of social media is undoubtedly a useful tool for democratic engagement but can be controversial in respect of the tone of communication, its immediacy and its perceived transient nature."

It will be discussed by the committee at a meeting on April 25.

It comes after it was revealed earlier this month that Shrewsbury's MP and the leader of Telford & Wrekin Council had become embroiled in a row over claims of "intimidatory" use of social media.

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski has written to Telford & Wrekin Council asking it to investigate its Labour leader Shaun Davies over "intimidating" tweets about hospital boss Simon Wright. Councillor Davies hit back, insisting he is simply "holding people to account" and representing the views of the people of Telford & Wrekin.

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