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Complaints against BCP Council members nearly double in a year

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COMPLAINTS against BCP councillors have almost doubled over a year ahead of new measures to reduce further rises.

Since March the council has adopted a policy to provide early mediation to avoid long and costly investigations, writes Trevor Bevins of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Figures showed 17 BCP complaints in the first year of the unitary council (2019/20); 19 the following year and then a leap to 34 in 2021/22.

The latest BCP figures involved 29 complaints against councillors by members of the public
The latest BCP figures involved 29 complaints against councillors by members of the public

Complaints involving town and parish councillors in the area over the same period have remained at one or two a year.

The latest BCP figures involved 29 complaints against councillors by members of the public and five where councillors complained against another.

Social media remains the biggest source of complaints, producing 18 of the 34 cases.

Of the alleged breaches of the council’s code of conduct, the majority, 26, are for "failing to treat others with respect".

Fourteen were for bringing the office of councillor or the council into disrespect; nine for intimidation or attempting to intimidate; and eight for causing the council to breach equality laws.

Most of the cases investigated were either dismissed with no evidence of a breach found (12) or were concluded by reaching an informal resolution.

Only one case was found to be a breach of the code of conduct after an independent investigation, with another case being reported to the council for further consideration.

The report said: “Whilst, a large proportion of complaints have resulted in no breach of the code being identified or an informal resolution mediated by the monitoring officer, any complaint received is the result of a perceived dissatisfaction by the complainant and has the potential to damage the reputation of the council.

"Administering the complaints process is also a high-resource activity and as a consequence every effort should be made to reduce complaints arising in the first instance.

"All councillors should be encouraged to play an active role and take responsibility for promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct.”

The council’s standards committee is expected to go into a closed-door session when it meets on 5th July to discuss two reports about BCP councillors where an investigation has found two grounds with sufficient evidence to uphold the complaint.

The committee will be asked what it wants to recommend as a result of the report. The document is not being made available to the press or public.

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