Chairman's Column - 23 February 2021
Published on Tuesday, 23rd February 2021
The Press Office – Messengers of the Council
“I really feel privileged to have this column published … even more privileged to think YOU are reading it!
“Over time, I would like to highlight some of the great work undertaken in different departments within the Council. So, to begin with … I don’t know where I would be without Maldon District Council’s Press Officers - or ‘Communications, Marketing and Engagement Team’ as they like to be referred to. In fact, if it wasn’t for them, you probably wouldn’t be reading this column or many other Council news features in newspapers, magazines or websites. They receive enquiries from just about anywhere - national, regional and local press and social media. They send out news releases, pictures or statements on behalf of the organisation, and this ensures that the Council’s messages to the public are correct, consistent and in line with its policies. They also deal with what the Council is achieving day to day, or consultations where the public are asked for their views on things like our corporate plan or park amenities. They warn us about potential adverse weather conditions and frequently communicate to the public through social media. During normal times they promote tourism and events in the district; which includes requests from radio, TV and film, where they advise on locations and manage road closures if necessary, this happens more often than you may think!
“Even this column goes through the Press Office and their circulation goes far and wide and I’m grateful for that. Of course, Councillors can by-pass the Press Office if they want to express a personal view in public forums (unless it’s confidential information) but, they should indicate it is a personal opinion and may not necessarily represent the view of the (whole) Council. This is particularly important during something called ‘Purdah’, this is the time period between the announcement of an election, and Election Day (In other words when candidates are campaigning). During this time, the Council as an organisation must not publish any material which appears to give support to any particular individual, group or party involved directly in the election although they can respond to events and legitimate service enquiries provided the answers are factual and not party political. This ensures that the views and policies of the Council are presented accurately.
“MDC Press Officers are very professional people, they never speculate with their own opinion on matters which are raised and will always discuss the subject with the relevant person, Councillor or maybe the relevant Committee Chairman if appropriate. It has been my experience that they, like so many other Council Staff and Members, really care about the organisation and the District.
“I hope you found this of interest and that it finds you well. Keep safe.”
Councillor Mark S Heard
Chairman of Maldon District Council