New code of conduct for councillors aims to end squabbling

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Town Clerk John Wright Town Clerk John Wright

FEUDING Lyme Regis town councillors last night discussed a new voluntary code of conduct – which could see councillors banned for six months if they behave badly.

Ugly scenes have marred recent meetings – councillors have swore at each other, shouted at officers and even walked out of meetings and both Town Clerk John Wright and Town Mayor Sally Holman have reprimanded councillors in the past few months regarding their behaviour.

The new code of conduct was discussed at last night’s, Wednesday 5, strategy and policy committee meeting, and the councillors also discussed amendments to the standing orders, the rules the council has to follow, financial regulations and the chairman and vice chairman of the sub-committees.

The new code highlights the relationships between councillors and officers.

In his report to the meeting, Town Clerk John Wright said: “Mutual trust and respect should be the key aim.

“Any dealings between members and officers should observe standards of courtesy and neither party should seek to take unfair advantage of their position, and do anything which compromises, or is likely to compromise, the impartiality of officers or undermines them. Basic respect, mutual understanding and openness are the greatest safeguard of the integrity of the council, its members and officers.”

As part of the code, complaints made about councillors or council officers should still be directed to West Dorset District Council’s monitoring officer. If the complaint relates to a pecuniary interest, it will be referred immediately to the police.

If the complaint has breached the code, it will be then referred back to Lyme Regis Town Council to decide whether any punishment should be imposed.

As part of the sanctions, the council can only issue a censure, a reprimand, offer training or offer the councillor the chance to make an apology.

But, there is also a sanctions section for the new code, which, if the councillors agree to and individually agree at the point of punishment, could see them banned for a period of six months, partially banned for six months or have restricted access to the council chamber and council buildings.

Also included as part of the code was clarification for councillors regarding pecuniary interests and dispensations, confidentiality and data protection, use of financial resources and the disclosure of information.

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