Twitter ye not!

Reporter: Erin Heywood
Date published: 01 March 2013

OLDHAM’S next mayor wants to put a stop to councillors tweeting during meetings.

Tory Councillor John Hudson says it distracts them from the serious topics being discussed - and he wants to ban tweeting when he becomes mayor in three months.

He view has led to a clash with council leader Councillor Jim McMahon who actively encourages tweeting.

At Wednesday’s budget meeting, Councillor Hudson’s comments against tweeting during meetings caused a stir among those who regularly take to the social media site to connect with the public.

Despite being an avid supporter of modern technology, Councillor Hudson says there is a time and a place for tweeting — and that isn’t during debates.

He said: “When it was proposed we should show council meetings online, and tweets from members of the public I was fine with that.

“My complaint is that councillors are tweeting comments to each other when really, they should be paying attention. They should be listening to the debate and speaking, and making their point publicly, not through Twitter. People are going to be wondering whether they have got their mind on the job, especially when they’re discussing something as important as the budget.

“If we are democratising, and a lot of people are using social media to get a better idea of how politics works in Oldham, then we should be professional and businesslike about it.

“The mayor hasn’t the power to ban people from using their iPads and iPhones completely. But I will be looking into the rules about using social media in meetings and I will find out what should and should not be allowed.

“I mentioned it on Wednesday to give people plenty of warning because I am not happy about it.”

Some councillors at the meeting ironically took to Twitter to express their feelings about his remarks. Councillor McMahon tweeted: “DeptMayor John Hudson doesn’t like Twitter in council, but the public do and engagement is better than ever. Move with the times.”

Councillor Sean Fielding keyed: “Enjoyable council meeting tonight in spite of the technophobic anti-Twitter sentiments from the old guard!”

But Councillor Hudson is unrepentant: “I’m simply saying that there are 60 councillors in that chamber, and they should be adding to the debate for the people in their areas, not tweeting. We can modernise all we like, but they should stick to the rules of being a councillor because it is a serious job.”

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