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Most complaints against Lancashire county councillors not upheld

Posted on - 4th February, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston News
County Hall in Preston. Pic: Blog Preston
County Hall in Preston. Pic: Blog Preston

The majority of complaints made against Lancashire county councillors last year were judged not to have breached the authority’s code of conduct.

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Nine complaints were lodged during 2023 and fault was found in only two, although an investigation into one of the matters is yet to conclude.

The figures were presented to a meeting of County Hall’s audit, risk and governance committee, which heard that the most common reason a member was called into question was for allegedly failing to respond to emails or other correspondence.  None of the three instances where such a complaint was made was upheld by the county council.

Read more: Lancashire County Council plans to raise council tax by 5% each year to balance books

The other complaints that were dismissed were over claims of an offensive social media post, a breach of data protection and rude and disrespectful behaviour.

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However, the latter two categories accounted for the two complaints that were upheld.  In the case of the data protection breach, it was decided that no further action was required, because the issue had been resolved by the county councillor in question amending a social media post which had included personal information.   The Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed their actions were “appropriate and sufficient”.

The upheld charge of rude and disrespectful behaviour was also not deemed to require any further action, as the member concerned apologised to the complainant.

It is understood that the nine complaints each related to a different one of the county council’s 84 elected members, rather than there being multiple reports against the same individuals.

Eight of the complaints lodged in 2023 were from members of the public, while one came from a parish councillor.

County councillors who are the subject of complaints which are either not upheld or resolved informally – following an initial assessment by County Hall’s monitoring officer –  remain anonymous. Those whose cases are taken to the conduct committee, after a formal investigation by the same officer,  are usually named if they are sanctioned and the matter is then reported to a meeting of the full council.

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The audit, risk and governance committee heard that the conduct committee had been convened only once in the last nine years.

Josh Mynott, Lancashire County Council’s democratic and member services manager, said that the number of complaints received was a reflection of the fact “our members are generally well-behaved”.

He added that where any “trends” emerged – as in the case of data protection-related complaints last year – the authority sought to address the issue and “learn lessons”.

To that end, new data protection training has recently been rolled out to members.

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