Councillor ignores request to apologise over conduct complaint

On two occasions a Preston councillor refused to apologise over code of conduct allegations, according to a town hall report.

Nine complaints were considered by the monitoring officer
Nine complaints were considered by the monitoring officer

The city council’s annual standards round-up said nine complaints were brought to the attention of the monitoring officer last year.

Three of these allegations were considered to have breached the elected members’ code of conduct and the councillor in question was requested to apologise.

But only once was the officer’s request followed up with an apology. No complaints required further investigation or progressed to a full hearing panel.

The unnamed councillor, or councillors, who refused to offer contrition were reported to political leaders “to be dealt with within (their) group.”

Complaints where members were found not to have breached guidelines ranged from bringing their office into disrepute to breaching confidentiality.

The incidents when apologies were requested related to complaints of failing to treat others with respect.

Another allegation, levelled at a parish councillor, claimed they had “used their position to secure an improper advantage.”

But the monitoring officer deemed that the accused was not acting in their official capacity at the time. The nine complaints in 2016/17 represented a small increase from the previous year when eight were submitted, none of which required a disciplinary hearing.

The standards committee agreed that training should remain a priority with newly elected councillors, in particular, given extra training opportunities to learn the code of conduct.

Committee chair Coun Javed Iqbal said: “The ability of the monitoring officer to resolve complaints in consultation with the independent person has proved to be particularly effective and has meant that complaints can be dealt with expeditiously in a cost and effective manner.”

The annual report maintains the anonymity of each councillor and their political allegiance.