Scottish Borders Council staff have been told to keep their views on Scottish independence to themselves – at least while they are working.
It will even be considered a breach of conduct to “express or display” their affiliations outside working hours if they are wearing a council uniform or ID badge ahead of the September 18 referendum.
And the display of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ stickers on any council property or vehicle is also strictly forbidden.
The proscriptive edict from the region’s largest employers has been issued by chief executive Tracey Logan in her capacity as the referendum’s local counting officer.
Ms Logan stresses that the council cannot, by law, give any publicity to either side in the campaign and that employees, while working, “must always act in a politically neutral fashion”.
“While this clearly does not affect your right to participate in political activities or express political views in your private and personal life, you must ensure you are not seen in any way to be doing so in your capacity as an SBC employee,” states Ms Logan.
The missive continues: “We should not as employees make any statement which appears to support or oppose either the ‘Yes’ campaign or the ‘No’ campaign while acting in the course of our employment.
“This means that no poster or other signage appearing to support or oppose either side of the campaign should be displayed on an SBC vehicle.
“Similarly, no material which would appear to support or oppose [either campaign] . . . should be displayed on any part of SBC property.
“Nor, as officers, should we wear any badge, clothing or other adornment which would suggest support or opposition . . . during the course of our employment.”
Staff are told to comply with these rules not only while working but also “while readily recognisable as an employee of SBC, eg while dealing with customers/clients, when in a public place, in a council vehicle or while wearing an SBC uniform or ID badge”.
Ms Logan concludes: “In adhering to these principles in the lead-up to the referendum, you will be protected from unjust and unwarranted criticism being directed at you.”