‘Sad’ number of local complaints

“TIT-FOR-TAT” complaints about town and parish councillors were scrutinised by a council committee for their “point-scoring” nature, according to a new report.

The report to Wakefield Council last week from chairman of the standards committee, Dean Emeritus, the Very Rev George Nairn-Briggs, said the assessment sub-committee received 25 complaints against councillors in 2010-11.

Twelve involved district councillors and no further action was taken in ten of the cases.

Seven of the 13 complaints against town and parish councillors resulted in no further action being taken, of which two reviews were received.

In one case the original “no further action” decision was upheld and another review request is still ongoing.

In his report, Rev Nairn-Briggs said: “It is sad that a number of the complaints that we have had to deal with locally have given the appearance of being ‘point scoring’ and ‘tit-for-tat’.”

He said this “sort” of complaint may have contributed to the government’s decision to announce the abolition of the Standards Board for England, which investigates complaints brought to its attention by the local authority committee.

Rev Nairn-Briggs said: “We were concerned by the number of complaints and so have undertaken training sessions with both councillors and members of the public so that they have a better understanding of the standards regime and what is expected of those working in the public domain.”

The Localism Bill, which is yet to be pass through parliament, will abolish the existing standards procedure and pass the responsibility to local authorities to monitor its members’ conduct.

It will give councils the option of choosing to continue operating under the existing Code of Conduct, adopt a local code or decide to operate without a code at all.