YORK councillors want to change the rules about what can be said in their meetings, after a major row over a public speech and a censored webcast last month.

At the moment, council procedure rules say elected councillors or members of the public are barred from mounting personal attacks on council officers at public meetings, but they are also banned from criticising council staff.

Now proposals have been put forward which will see that ban lifted, and council leader Cllr Chris Steward says the move is crucial to make sure the council is not trying to stymie legitimate criticism.

Last month a webcast of a full council meeting had parts cut out before it was broadcast online, because council bosses said York resident Gwen Swinburn's speech breached the procedure rules.

The decision attracted heavy criticism, and some councillors threatened to force an extraordinary meeting as the council was inviting "ridicule and suspicion" by appearing to fight any criticism being made public.

Now a proposal going to an executive meeting on Thursday will see a change in the rules recommended and the ban on criticism lifted.

Cllr Steward said: "We want people to be able to criticise us if we get things wrong, and to criticise the council if it gets thing wrong, but it has to be fair and appropriate."

He said the current rules mean someone could be ruled "out of order" for criticising an officer for something as simple as disagreeing over a planning recommendation. While personal attacks should not be tolerated, the council should not try to stop people making legitimate criticism, he added.

The recommendations propose getting rid of a rule that stops people revealing personal details about another without their permission - something Cllr Steward said was an unnecessary to set out formally.

They also add in an explanation that the chief executive will make the final decision over what parts of webcasts can be cut from broadcasts.