The report presented set out details of complaints against Members of the council received during the municipal year 2021/22.
Councillor Snell questioned whether there had been an incidence when a complaint about a member was dealt with without that member ever finding out to which Matthew Boulter stated the complaints in the report where formal complaints which had been assessed against the seven Nolan principles. As Monitoring Officer, he received a lot of issues from people about relationships with councillor, with residents and officers and a lot of those would be dealt with before a member had been informed as these would have been assessed as a non-complaint or been resolved without the due process of the complaints system.
Charles Clarke referred to paragraph 2.4 of the report and questioned whether there was a different process with dealing with a complaint that had been received from another councillor and questioned how these would be assessed and reported back on. Matthew Boulter stated there would be no discouragement on member-on-member complaints but there would be an expectation that members would resolve issues or disagreements between themselves in a political way. Although if a member felt that another member had breached the Nolan principles, standards in public life, the monitoring officer would be fully supportive of them making a formal complaint which would be investigated in the same way as any other complaint would be dealt with.
Councillor Snell questioned whether any of the decisions discussed this evening would be any different under the new standards to which Matthew Boulter stated none of the complaints represented a serious breach of the code with nothing in the report that would have been dealt with differently.
Councillor Rigby questioned whether members would be informed of any complaints that had been raised again them, to which Matthew Boulter stated contact would be made with that resident, the complaints process explained to them and once they understood that process may decide not to pursue their complaints. Members would not be made aware of those complaints. Although for anything significant, behaviour or actions of a member would have to be addressed and that Member would be told.
Councillor Ononaji questioned how complaints from members of the public would be dealt when that resident had not fully understood the role of a member to which Matthew Boulter stated every complaint had to be made through a complaints form which was accessible to everyone online which would take the complainant through a number of stages which would clarify their complaint. They would need to provide evidence and provide information on how they would like the complaint to be resolved. There may be situations when residents decide this would not be the route to take but confirmed to members that every form completed would be investigated. As part of this process, residents may be informed there was no complaint to be had because the complaint had no substance.
That the committee noted the outcomes on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct.