tory on the BBC website revealed that Portsmouth City Council has changed its policy on access to social networking and blocked access to Facebook.The decision comes after it was revealed that its staff spent on average 400 hours on the site every month. However the council revealed that the figures only equated to each of its 4,500 staff, who have access to computers, spending about six minutes a month on the site.

The council stressed it was unable to determine whether staff had been accessing Facebook in break times or before or after work, which had been allowed.

David Williams, chief executive of Portsmouth City Council, said: "We regularly revise our position on this as the internet environment is constantly changing. We revised the policy in July to facilitate work life balance and allow things like internet banking in staff's own time but we intend to restrict internet access to social networking sites more than at present for non-business use. Any member of staff may, under this revised policy, make a business case to have these sites unblocked if they need to use them for council business."

Now the debate about social networking use in the workplace will probably never die down; current staff want it, new staff expect it, employers are reluctant to allow it but realise that if they don't offer it they are limiting their opportunities for graduate recruitment but if they do offer it, there is the chance that some staff will spend all day on it.

In the case of Portsmouth City Council, this does seem a little extreme. I'm sure that the average of ‘six minutes a month on the site' is balanced with some not using it at all and some excessively using it, but to deprive all of access is rather unfair in my opinion.

Ok so if some users were accidentally downloading viruses and posing a real threat to the security of the organisation then you can understand the cause for concern, but to me this seems a little excessive as a punishment.

Surely there must be some sort of technology that allows ‘credits' to be spent at lunchtime and before and after work, that would allow access for workers when they are not on taxpayers time or the employers watch?