Rules on relationships between politicians and staff at Flintshire Council set to be revised in wake of former leader’s suspension
Rules on relationships between politicians and staff at Flintshire Council look set to be tightened in the wake of the suspension of its former leader.
Aaron Shotton was suspended as a councillor for three months in January after a tribunal found he had twice breached the local authority’s code of conduct.
The Labour representative for Connah’s Quay Central was found to have encouraged his married PA Hayley Selvester to send inappropriate and sexual messages to him during working hours.
The Adjudication Panel for Wales also judged he had left questions on his desk for her to read before her interview for the role in 2012.
The council is now proposing to amend its protocol by asking councillors and staff with close relationships to declare their existence.
It said the move was partly being considered to prevent any further damage to the authority’s reputation.
In a report, Gareth Owens, chief officer for governance, said: “Councillors must have a geographical tie to the area of the council in order to be eligible to stand for election.
“It is common that the majority of employees will also live within the county that they serve.
“It is inevitable, therefore, that employees and councillors will have familial, social or even emotional relationships.
“Provided the relationship is declared by both officer and councillor through the relevant system for recording interests, it is possible for the council to put in place arrangements to ensure that council functions, procedures and safeguards are not affected.”
He added: “The recent case tribunal decision showed the potential impact and consequences of covert relationships between councillors and employees.
“Amendments have therefore been suggested to reinforce the requirements on declaring interests for this reason.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that Cllr Shotton had also been suspended from the Labour Party following the hearing.
His suitability as leader of Flintshire was called into question after allegations of his affair first surfaced in June 2018.
He resigned from the top political post on the council in April last year amid mounting pressure after sacking his deputy Bernie Attridge.
The revisions to the authority’s procedures will be considered by standards committee members on Monday.
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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