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'Who said that?' – complaints after mystery councillor heard to swear during meeting

Bournemouth Town Hall, HQ for BCP Council
Bournemouth Town Hall, HQ for BCP Council

COMPLAINTS have been made after a councillor was heard swearing during a BCP Council meeting.

During a pause in proceedings while votes were being counted, an unidentified member of the council was heard saying “f*** right off”, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Current and former councillors have described it as “simply unacceptable conduct”. The council confirmed “a number of complaints” had been made, prompting an internal investigation.

The comment was made at Tuesday’s full council meeting, which was held remotely, during a vote on whether to sign off a deal to sell land to University Hospitals Dorset.

A male councillor, who has not been identified because they were off-screen at the time, said: “F*** right off” while votes were being counted by council officers.

The comment was flagged by Cllr Judy Butt who asked: “Who said that?” but it was otherwise not addressed for the rest of the meeting.

Former Poole councillors Sean Gabriel and John Challinor both condemned his actions on Twitter.

Mr Challinor said it was “simply unacceptable conduct” while Mr Gabriel, a former town mayor, described it as “shocking behaviour”.

A spokesperson for the council said “a number” of councillors and members of the public had raised similar concerns.

At least one official complaint has also been made to its chief executive, Graham Farrant, who said in response that it would be investigated through the council’s internal complaints procedure.

The complainant has also criticised councillors for not addressing the comment during the meeting.

The council’s code of conduct, which governs the behaviour of its elected representatives and officers, makes no specific reference to councillors swearing.

But it says they “must not behave in a way which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their role or the council into disrepute”.

A council spokesperson added: “We have received a number of emails from councillors who were present at the council meeting, and from members of the public, all of whom have expressed their concern about the language heard during the online meeting.”

These were now being considered in line with the council’s code of conduct. Should the complaints be progressed further, they will be considered by the council’s standards committee.

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