Electronic games ban at County Hall

Electronic games ban at County Hall

Electronic games ban at County Hall

First published in News Evesham Journal: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

THE playing of electronic games like Solitaire is officially being banned at Worcestershire County Council.

Two months after it pledged to publish new guidance on how councillors should behave in meetings, your Worcester News can today reveal the fresh rules due to be handed to all 57 County Hall politicians.

The dossier, drawn up after a complaint was made over Liberal Cllr Fran Oborski playing the Solitaire card game during meetings, states:

- Councillors cannot play electronic games, read newspapers, books or magazines "at any point" during any meeting

- Even councillors who attend committee meetings as observers in the public gallery, as many do, are being told not to play electronic games due to "poor public perception" over it

- They can still use social media like Twitter, however "the full attention of councillors" must be on the debate or vote and they "must not be distracted"

- It also says councillors must not visit websites "which are not suitable for work" and "must ensure screensavers are appropriate"

The guidance has already been criticised by some councillors, who say it is "over the top" and "too restrictive".

It will be circulated to them for consultation before being finalised, and even asks them "to reduce" moving around or leaving the room to as infrequently as possible to avoid disruption.

It comes months after Cllr Oborski was spotted playing Solitaire on her iPad in meetings, leading to one public complaint being made and considerable media coverage including satirical magazine Private Eye.

Cllr Oborski, who previously said she used Solitaire as a screensaver, yesterday said: "Saying we can't play electronic games is fine, but for me this is too prescriptive, it's over the top.

"If it was decided that we couldn't bring in newspapers how would that affect those of us who refer to them during meetings?

"It looks like they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

Green Councillor Mathew Jenkins said: "Telling councillors who turn up to observe committee meetings not to play electronic games seems over the top.

"I think that's going a bit too far. But I do agree councillors taking part in meetings should not play games."

Councillor Joe Baker, from the Labour group, said: "To a certain extent I agree with it, public perception is important and we are making very important decisions.

"You've got to pay attention to what's going on around you."

The draft dossier has been drawn up by the council's legal chief Simon Mallinson and is expected to be finalised by September.

Comments (16)

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10:11am Sat 26 Jul 14

Peter47 says...

Good grief ! What will they do all day ?
Good grief ! What will they do all day ? Peter47
  • Score: -8

11:31am Sat 26 Jul 14

skychip says...

The Councillors should be concentrating on the issues being discussed. They sound like kids.
The Councillors should be concentrating on the issues being discussed. They sound like kids. skychip
  • Score: 2

12:16pm Sat 26 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

These councillors get elected on promises that they will act on our behalf.
If attending meetings which, by way of an attendance allowance, they are paid, might just suggest that is what they should do, and concentrate on the issues which in many cases will / may affect the lives of we voters.
Could I remind our county councillors that when we, the public, are looking in on Web Cam, it is not edited, and therefore becomes very interesting as to the participation of these councillors, not Just Fran.
So for those who object to having to attend a meeting to participate, not to be on the phone, YOU are obviously IN THE WRONG PROFESSION.
And what about the confidentiality of the meetings anyway, just smacks of "Non-Professionalism
".
These councillors get elected on promises that they will act on our behalf. If attending meetings which, by way of an attendance allowance, they are paid, might just suggest that is what they should do, and concentrate on the issues which in many cases will / may affect the lives of we voters. Could I remind our county councillors that when we, the public, are looking in on Web Cam, it is not edited, and therefore becomes very interesting as to the participation of these councillors, not Just Fran. So for those who object to having to attend a meeting to participate, not to be on the phone, YOU are obviously IN THE WRONG PROFESSION. And what about the confidentiality of the meetings anyway, just smacks of "Non-Professionalism ". Jabbadad
  • Score: -18

12:58pm Sat 26 Jul 14

3thinker says...

It would be even better if they banned petty 'political games' at the County and City Councils and spent the time saved on constructive debate about how best to make the cuts and use their reduced resources better.

Starter for ten is to have a serious look at the massive savings and efficiencies that can be made by merging the County and District Councils into one or two Unitary Councils for Worcestershire.

It would have the added advantage of making it easier for the public to understand which services are City or County responsibilities. Make it harder for each to blame each other when problems arise and make it easier for all services to work collaboratively on resolving the bigger public concerns e.g. resolving the City's growing congestion problems.
It would be even better if they banned petty 'political games' at the County and City Councils and spent the time saved on constructive debate about how best to make the cuts and use their reduced resources better. Starter for ten is to have a serious look at the massive savings and efficiencies that can be made by merging the County and District Councils into one or two Unitary Councils for Worcestershire. It would have the added advantage of making it easier for the public to understand which services are City or County responsibilities. Make it harder for each to blame each other when problems arise and make it easier for all services to work collaboratively on resolving the bigger public concerns e.g. resolving the City's growing congestion problems. 3thinker
  • Score: 1

1:33pm Sat 26 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

I also have supported unitary authorities, however i understand that if one Unitary Authority was for Worcestershire then the CONservatives would sweep the board and put an end to even the poor democaracy we have now.
We old folk know that the CONservatives can't be trusted since they are anti our age group, disabled and Vulnerable, aren't they?
I also have supported unitary authorities, however i understand that if one Unitary Authority was for Worcestershire then the CONservatives would sweep the board and put an end to even the poor democaracy we have now. We old folk know that the CONservatives can't be trusted since they are anti our age group, disabled and Vulnerable, aren't they? Jabbadad
  • Score: -20

1:54pm Sat 26 Jul 14

3thinker says...

Jabbadad wrote:
I also have supported unitary authorities, however i understand that if one Unitary Authority was for Worcestershire then the CONservatives would sweep the board and put an end to even the poor democaracy we have now.
We old folk know that the CONservatives can't be trusted since they are anti our age group, disabled and Vulnerable, aren't they?
But that's the case at a County level already? We also shouldn't be considering changes for political reasons. Theoretically at least, once elected all councillors should serve the best interest of their electorate.

When most things have been privatised (or externalised) there's actually very few major service changes that can be made.

City region government is on the agenda for both major parties. Having worked for a Met Unitary it was difficult to influence regional structures (e.g Advantage West Midlands). Even more difficult when the County and Districts can't agree locally what they want.
[quote][p][bold]Jabbadad[/bold] wrote: I also have supported unitary authorities, however i understand that if one Unitary Authority was for Worcestershire then the CONservatives would sweep the board and put an end to even the poor democaracy we have now. We old folk know that the CONservatives can't be trusted since they are anti our age group, disabled and Vulnerable, aren't they?[/p][/quote]But that's the case at a County level already? We also shouldn't be considering changes for political reasons. Theoretically at least, once elected all councillors should serve the best interest of their electorate. When most things have been privatised (or externalised) there's actually very few major service changes that can be made. City region government is on the agenda for both major parties. Having worked for a Met Unitary it was difficult to influence regional structures (e.g Advantage West Midlands). Even more difficult when the County and Districts can't agree locally what they want. 3thinker
  • Score: 2

3:43pm Sat 26 Jul 14

roary01 says...

Why do they need to be told this most ppl would get the sack from their jobs for playing games on company time should be banned full stop not just in meetings
Why do they need to be told this most ppl would get the sack from their jobs for playing games on company time should be banned full stop not just in meetings roary01
  • Score: 17

10:36am Sun 27 Jul 14

Geebill says...

Now we know what the raise in allowances was for. Obviously it was to allow the councillors to buy Game Boys and Tablets. It would be interesting to be told by the ones who play games at meetings exactly what they think they are there for. I cant see why they should need to twitter during meetings, if they are using such devices they are obviously not paying enough attention.
Now we know what the raise in allowances was for. Obviously it was to allow the councillors to buy Game Boys and Tablets. It would be interesting to be told by the ones who play games at meetings exactly what they think they are there for. I cant see why they should need to twitter during meetings, if they are using such devices they are obviously not paying enough attention. Geebill
  • Score: 5

11:53am Sun 27 Jul 14

New Kid on the Block says...

Geebill wrote:
Now we know what the raise in allowances was for. Obviously it was to allow the councillors to buy Game Boys and Tablets. It would be interesting to be told by the ones who play games at meetings exactly what they think they are there for. I cant see why they should need to twitter during meetings, if they are using such devices they are obviously not paying enough attention.
My sentiments entirely. If you are twittering you are not paying proper attention to what is happening.
The time to tell people about the meeting is afterwards, when you can give a proper complete report. Not some little snippet of garbage limited to 140 characters.
The fact that Councillors are objecting to being told to pay attention shows how little experience they appear to have of the real world. Roary01 makes a very valid point. Play games in your own time, not Council time.
[quote][p][bold]Geebill[/bold] wrote: Now we know what the raise in allowances was for. Obviously it was to allow the councillors to buy Game Boys and Tablets. It would be interesting to be told by the ones who play games at meetings exactly what they think they are there for. I cant see why they should need to twitter during meetings, if they are using such devices they are obviously not paying enough attention.[/p][/quote]My sentiments entirely. If you are twittering you are not paying proper attention to what is happening. The time to tell people about the meeting is afterwards, when you can give a proper complete report. Not some little snippet of garbage limited to 140 characters. The fact that Councillors are objecting to being told to pay attention shows how little experience they appear to have of the real world. Roary01 makes a very valid point. Play games in your own time, not Council time. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 8

9:23pm Sun 27 Jul 14

DarrenM says...

"The draft dossier has been drawn up by the council's legal chief Simon Mallinson" - Whilst I'm all against Councillors wasting time, just so I'm totally clear in my understanding then - the un-elected public servants who are apparently answerable to no-one are laying down codes of conduct to Councillors who are answerable to the electorate?

Clearly the cuts haven't been deep enough and more cuts are needed - perhaps starting with this "legal Chief" until these people can learn they actually are answerable to the public via our elected representatives and not the other way around....
"The draft dossier has been drawn up by the council's legal chief Simon Mallinson" - Whilst I'm all against Councillors wasting time, just so I'm totally clear in my understanding then - the un-elected public servants who are apparently answerable to no-one are laying down codes of conduct to Councillors who are answerable to the electorate? Clearly the cuts haven't been deep enough and more cuts are needed - perhaps starting with this "legal Chief" until these people can learn they actually are answerable to the public via our elected representatives and not the other way around.... DarrenM
  • Score: 1

10:10am Mon 28 Jul 14

mack18 says...

Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings!
Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings! mack18
  • Score: 2

12:16pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Fishy says...

mack18 wrote:
Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings!
Social media can be used to see what the public think so not necessarily a bad thing. Pens and papers can be distractions too don't forget.

The solution is to have councillors who do it because they want to not career politicians doing it for the money then they moght be inclined to do it properly.

My grandad was a councillor for years and was paid expenses and loss of earnings but no more. He did it for the right reasons.
[quote][p][bold]mack18[/bold] wrote: Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings![/p][/quote]Social media can be used to see what the public think so not necessarily a bad thing. Pens and papers can be distractions too don't forget. The solution is to have councillors who do it because they want to not career politicians doing it for the money then they moght be inclined to do it properly. My grandad was a councillor for years and was paid expenses and loss of earnings but no more. He did it for the right reasons. Fishy
  • Score: 6

2:33pm Mon 28 Jul 14

mack18 says...

Fishy wrote:
mack18 wrote:
Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings!
Social media can be used to see what the public think so not necessarily a bad thing. Pens and papers can be distractions too don't forget.

The solution is to have councillors who do it because they want to not career politicians doing it for the money then they moght be inclined to do it properly.

My grandad was a councillor for years and was paid expenses and loss of earnings but no more. He did it for the right reasons.
I did not say social media is a bad thing.Read what I`ve actually said. The presence of the notebook and pen is obvious - to take notes relevant to the meeting.
[quote][p][bold]Fishy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mack18[/bold] wrote: Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings![/p][/quote]Social media can be used to see what the public think so not necessarily a bad thing. Pens and papers can be distractions too don't forget. The solution is to have councillors who do it because they want to not career politicians doing it for the money then they moght be inclined to do it properly. My grandad was a councillor for years and was paid expenses and loss of earnings but no more. He did it for the right reasons.[/p][/quote]I did not say social media is a bad thing.Read what I`ve actually said. The presence of the notebook and pen is obvious - to take notes relevant to the meeting. mack18
  • Score: 1

3:38pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Fishy says...

mack18 wrote:
Fishy wrote:
mack18 wrote: Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings!
Social media can be used to see what the public think so not necessarily a bad thing. Pens and papers can be distractions too don't forget. The solution is to have councillors who do it because they want to not career politicians doing it for the money then they moght be inclined to do it properly. My grandad was a councillor for years and was paid expenses and loss of earnings but no more. He did it for the right reasons.
I did not say social media is a bad thing.Read what I`ve actually said. The presence of the notebook and pen is obvious - to take notes relevant to the meeting.
You did say it was a distraction though - what if the matter being discussed is public opinion and facebook is exactly the place to look?
[quote][p][bold]mack18[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Fishy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mack18[/bold] wrote: Using social media, eg Twitter or Facebook, requires attention and therefore it must mean a distraction from whats actually happening at that particular time in the meeting. Only a pen and notebook should be allowed to be used during these taxpayer funded gatherings![/p][/quote]Social media can be used to see what the public think so not necessarily a bad thing. Pens and papers can be distractions too don't forget. The solution is to have councillors who do it because they want to not career politicians doing it for the money then they moght be inclined to do it properly. My grandad was a councillor for years and was paid expenses and loss of earnings but no more. He did it for the right reasons.[/p][/quote]I did not say social media is a bad thing.Read what I`ve actually said. The presence of the notebook and pen is obvious - to take notes relevant to the meeting.[/p][/quote]You did say it was a distraction though - what if the matter being discussed is public opinion and facebook is exactly the place to look? Fishy
  • Score: 2

6:58pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Perfman says...

Anyone councillors or council employee found playing games in council work hours should be dismissed on the spot for gross negligence!
Anyone councillors or council employee found playing games in council work hours should be dismissed on the spot for gross negligence! Perfman
  • Score: 0

10:35pm Thu 31 Jul 14

The Villan says...

Don't they have more pressing issues to worry about?
Don't they have more pressing issues to worry about? The Villan
  • Score: 0

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