Complaints and confidentiality
Dear Sir, — If an elected councillor, or former councillor, is found to have lied to his / her fellow councillors and / or the electorate, most people would expect that information to be in the public domain.
This is primarily because all councillors are acting on behalf of, and are paid by, the council tax payers of the borough.
I believe that most council tax payers are well aware that an elected councillor acts on their behalf in terms of council activity, and would consider such information to be invaluable since, when the said councillor comes up for re-election or promotion, the public should have the opportunity of stating their concerns.
If, however, a formal complaint is made to the monitoring officer about the conduct of a councillor, and that complaint is upheld, the complainant may be advised that the complaint has been found to be valid and proven but is also told that the contents of the complaints notice are to be confidential This raises two distinct issues. The first is that an agreement to confidentiality must be as stated, an agreement, and not imposed unilaterally by the council.
The second issue is that, as noted above, the council tax payer should be made aware of what an elected councillor is doing in their name.
It should be noted that all councils and councillors are committed to operating under the seven Nolan principles of public life which include commitments to honesty, openness and transparency, accountability to the public for their actions, and respect for others.
Do such actions adhere to these principles?
I believe not and I am intending to take this matter up with the Audit and Governance Committee of Cheshire East Council at its next meeting.
If you agree you may wish to drop a short email or note to your elected councillor who, I suspect, may not be aware of the imposed confidentiality stipulation. — Yours faithfully,