Social media can enhance democracy in Northumberland, but only if used properly

Social media is playing an increasing role in politics. Used properly websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools to get important messages out and get feedback from residents right across our county.

This Conservative administration is focused on keeping Northumberland residents informed about how our council is working for you. Each Local Area has a Local Area Council and each has its own Facebook page. Every local member can share a story when something happens in their area. All areas of the county are represented and this council’s social media is working for everyone.

We have also worked hard to make sure that the council’s social media pages remain politically neutral. They stay positive, and we make sure everything we say is backed up with facts.

This week we saw the negative impact of sharing stories which aren't backed up by facts. The full council meeting heard how one member had been distressed by false accusations made about him and other members on social media. He also raised concern about how one party in Northumberland has used social media to attack officers of the council. As well as threatening the livelihoods of staff, this could also affect the integrity of the whole council.

We have always affirmed that we can't police the internet, but by maintaining high standards of conduct online we can ensure that social media remains a helpful tool to enhance democracy in Northumberland. This year we backed a motion to set up a working group to review the council's social media piolicy. That group is now working to make sure that social media continues to improve communication between Northumbrians and the council that works for them.

We are also working harder than ever to make sure that everyone, no matter where they are, can keep up with what’s going on in Northumberland. We remain determined to deliver connectivity to high speed, fibre broadband for Northumebrland residents. Last week I met with the CEO and the Director of Strategic Infrastructure Development at BT OpenReach and they gave us firm commitment to work closely with us to this end. With the vast majority of the county already connected, BT are now dealing with the hardest to reach areas but we will not stop until broadband in Northumberland works for everyone.