Council bosses defend dummies’ guide

The guide produced for candidates
The guide produced for candidates
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A dummies’ guide to social media has been defended by Town Hall chiefs after it was criticised by opponents.

Preston Council was challenged for printing the fold-out cards, warning councillors and candidates what not to do on the internet in the run up to the elections.

Objectors said the cards should have been published online and not printed, but leaders stepped in to defend the decision.

Conservative councillor Stephen Thompson said: “Ironically, it is a leaflet about going on the internet, would it not be better to go on the internet rather than producing what looks like a fairly expensive leaflet?”

But council leader Coun Peter Rankin said: “It is important that it has 100 per cent reach and I would actually praise the fact the leaflet has been done because it’s very important that people know what the rules are.

“It’s very easy to send off a tweet and then think ‘I shouldn’t have said that’, but it’s too late, it’s already out there.”

The council’s chief executive, Lorraine Norris, who is also returning officer, said: “The reason we produced the leaflet was because at the last General Election there was very little social media, but in the last five years, the role of Twitter and other social media has multiplied massively.

“At the last round of county and district elections, there were a number of offences committed by candidates and agents through lack of knowledge. What we are trying to draw to people’s attention is there are serious electoral offences that can be committed.

“Particularly with respect to postal voting, there are both returning officers and candidates and agents that have found themselves on the wrong side of the law. They potentially could publish election information all over the world and that’s the justification for why we produced the leaflet.”