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List of dos and don’ts drawn up for councillors in Flintshire following fiery exchanges at meetings

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Aug 28th, 2019.

A list of dos and don’ts has been drawn up for councillors in Flintshire following a series of fiery exchanges at public meetings.

Members of Flintshire Council’s standards committee will gather next week to consider a review of the behaviour expected of politicians in the county.

It comes after several ill tempered debates, particularly in full council meetings, where heckling has taken place and insults have been exchanged.

The new rules state that members should not make personal remarks and allow each other to speak without interruption.

The revised code of conduct has been welcomed by one opposition politician, who accused some unnamed councillors of making rude hand gestures during a debate on council tax in February.

Cllr Carol Ellis, deputy leader of the Flintshire Independents Group, described their actions as ‘apalling’ and has now called for more respect to be shown.

She said: “Some of the behaviour is unacceptable and bordering on bullying.

“People just need to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and remember why they’re there, which is to represent members of the public.

“I can be very direct but I’m always polite and I never harass anyone.

“When other people are getting it I will also defend people.”

The process which is being reviewed was originally set up in 2013 to handle low level complaints and allow them to be resolved quickly.

It can be used as an alternative to referring issues to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales and sets out how councillors should behave towards each other and council staff.

The updated document includes a reminder not to mention officers in any political remarks and to ensure they are treated with respect at public meetings held in local communities.

The authority’s chief officer for governance said the changes had been brought about as a result of political leaders wanting to make the expected standards of behaviour clear to councillors.

In a report set to go before standards committee members on Monday, Gareth Owens said: “There has recently been a desire amongst both members and officers to review the contents of the Flintshire Standard in order to expand and clarify the guidance within it and restate and reinforce the behaviours expected.

“Officers and group leaders have therefore suggested some amendments to the Flintshire Standard.

“It can be invoked quickly and easily in order to catch issues before significant harm occurs to that relationship and whilst people are more willing to compromise.

“It is, however, extra statutory and so does not have recourse to the legislative sanctions available following a complaint to the Ombudsman.

“Its use must always therefore be considered carefully to ensure its suitability in light of the nature of the complaint and the surrounding circumstances.”

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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