Revamped complaints process postponed

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 12:30

By Bradley Gerrard, Local Democracy Reporter

Devon County Council has postponed a decision that would have seen its complaints process against councillors overhauled.

The standards committee was this week discussing the council’s code of conduct and the processes for dealing with complaints.
The proposed changes are based on a template from the Local Government Association.
But several committee members raised suggestions about how the process could be tweaked, including a hearings-style approach, the ability for independent people to attend hearings, as well as template documents and decision notices.
They felt the process needed to be right for complainants to have their concerns heard and properly investigated, as well as supporting the subject of the complaint.
There was also concern about how the investigation process would work, and uncertainty about whether sanctions could be used while councillors were under investigation.
Fears were raised about unintended consequences, such as councillors subject to a complaint not being able to fulfil their role while investigations were ongoing.
The committee agreed that further consultation was needed and will discuss the issue again in November.
Since the previous standards committee meeting, three complaints had been received about alleged breaches of the code of conduct.
These included a lack of action on a planning matter, no engagement and a curt response, and a failure to declare a financial interest.
However, none were deemed to be breaches of the code of conduct and no action was required.

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