The media naturally has a keen interest in many aspects of council decision-making and service delivery. To fulfill its role it needs access to accurate, timely information. All elected members will receive approaches from the media for comment and should follow the Code of Conduct’s protocols:
The mayor is the first point of contact for the official view on any issue. When the mayor is absent matters will be referred to the deputy mayor or relevant committee chair. The mayor can also refer matters to the relevant committee or local board chairs.
The local board chair (or their delegate) may comment on behalf of the local board in relation to local matters where decision-making, public consultation or advocacy is the responsibility of the local board.
No other member of the Governing Body or local board may comment on behalf of the council unless they have first obtained the approval of the mayor or local board chair (depending on whether the matter relates to the Governing Body or a local board).
Elected members may choose to respond immediately to media inquiries and assistance from the council’s communications team is available to ensure that media releases and responses are accurate.
Elected members can express a personal view to the media at any time. It should be made clear, however, that:
they are not representing the views of the Governing Body or local board
statements do not represent the majority view if they are contrary to a Governing Body or local board decision or council policy
any media comment made in a personal capacity must also observe other requirements of the Code of Conduct, e.g. not disclosing confidential or legally privileged information, compromising the impartiality or integrity of staff, or denigrating other elected members
Comments made by members in their personal capacity are not covered by the qualified privilege of those made during business meetings.
Help is available to elected members speaking on behalf of the council. This support may include drafting speeches or speaking notes. These will present information in a fair and politically neutral manner. Council communications assistance will not promote or be perceived to promote a sitting member’s re-election prospects or personal profile.