Acceptable Use Policy

Data Quality, Disclaimers and Limitation of Liability - Elmbridge Borough Council

The content, including names, pictures and logos regarding or relating to this web page is provided on our understanding of it being true and accurate - however because of the nature of information and the necessity to rely on contributors for information, Elmbridge Borough Council cannot guarantee the accuracy, endorse any of the content provided (for example, that it will be error free or that defects will be corrected) and will not accept liability for damages incurred as a result of use of the website. Visitors who rely on this information do so at their own risk.

Members' Acceptable Use Policy

This Acceptable Use Policy defines the purposes for which Members cannot use the site. In summary these are:

Defamation

Defamation can be defined as "the publication of a statement which tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally." The "statement" can be words, visual images or some other method of signifying meaning. Defamation takes two forms, libel and slander. Libel involves (amongst other things) writing or printing a defamatory statement. Slander is speech or gestures of a defamatory nature.

Members may not use their Councillor Page to publish defamatory statements or material. Anyone who believes that they have been defamed by a Councillor will be able to take legal action directly against the Member concerned. The relevant legislation is the Defamation Act 1996. A Member is only permitted to publish information in the context of their official role in respect of matters of general public interest.

Members are responsible for the maintenance of content on their own Page. Elmbridge Borough Council is not responsible for approving content put on to Members' individual pages. The Council does not authorise or in any way sanction the publication of statements which might be construed as defamatory. Inappropriate material may result in the Member's page being removed / amended directly by the Council.

Data Protection

In managing a website, Members may receive comments, enquiries or complaints from members of the public. Councillors may refer to (or publish) material that is based upon information drawn from the Local Authority or obtained from external sources. All such personal information should be treated with care and respect for relevant data protection law.
Anyone processing personal data must comply with the eight enforceable principles of good practice. They say that data must be:

'Personal data' covers both facts and opinions about the individual. It also includes information regarding the intentions of the data controller towards the individual. The definition of processing incorporates the concepts of 'obtaining', 'holding' and 'disclosing'. The Member confirms that they have read the Council's own policy on data protection and accepts the provisions of it.

The Data Protection Act applies, and the full text of the 1998 Act is available at the Office of Public Sector Information

Political Publicity

As the Councillor Pages are funded by Elmbridge Borough Council, Members may not use their individual Member Pages to promote political campaigns and advocate political stances on issues. They may not use the site to promote a political party or persons identified with a political party. They may not use it to promote or oppose a view on a question of political controversy, which is identifiable as the view of one political party and not of another.

Section 4 of the 1986 Local Government Act enabled the Secretary of State to issue a Code of Practice on Local Authority publicity. The original Code was amended in 2001. The relevant paragraphs are:

"Publicity about individual councillors may include the contact details, the positions they hold in the Council (for example a member of the Executive or Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee) and their responsibilities. Publicity may also include information about individual councillors' proposals,

decisions and recommendations only where this is relevant to their position and responsibilities within the council. All such publicity should be objective and explanatory and whilst it may acknowledge the part played by individual councillors as holders of particular positions in the council, personalisation of issues or personal image-making should be avoided.

Publicity should not be, or liable to misrepresentation as being, party political. Whilst it may be appropriate to describe policies put forward by an individual councillor which are relevant to her/his position and responsibilities within the council, and to put forward his/her justification in defence of them, this should not be done in party political terms, using political slogans, expressly advocating policies of those of a particular political party, or directly attacking policies and opinions of other parties, groups or individuals".

Representation of the People Act Restrictions

During election times (from the 'notice of an election' to the election itself), it will be necessary under the Representation of the People Act restrictions to suspend most parts of the individual Member web pages. Visitors will still, however, be able to contact them through the website.

Other Statutory Issues

Care should be taken to ensure compliance with legislation and Local Authority policies generally.

Members' Code of Conduct

Elmbridge Borough Council has provisions that govern the conduct of Members. The Members' individual web pages should be used with due regard to the Members' Code of Conduct as defined in Part 6 of the Council's Constitution; and each Member of the Council has signed the declaration to abide by the Code of Conduct provisions.
The Constitution can be viewed on the Council's website.
In the event of a Member having a complaint about the content of the individual web pages of another Member, then that complaint will be processed using the Council's Complaint procedures. Members agree not to use the "Contact us" section of the web site to raise a complaint about the content of another Member's individual webpage. On a general level

Tainting of Decision Making through Biased / Closed Minds

Members who are in positions of determining quasi-judicial processes, particularly Planning and Licensing matters, or determining the outcome of consultation exercises, must exercise care to keep an open mind on issues which they may be required to make decisions on.

The use of individual Member web pages to set out a clear position on a particular issue could well provideevidence of bias based on a particular personal interest or view, or a closed mind. This would demonstrate the artificiality of the Member then purporting to consider openly all issues in the determination of that matter.

Members must have regard to all relevant advice when reaching decisions and to give reasons for decisions. Members must give an accurate and even-handed account of discussions or processes that lead to decisions being taken.