‘Deal with low-level complaints against RCT councillors locally’
THERE are calls for “lowlevel” complaints against councillors in Rhondda Cynon Taff to be resolved locally rather than referred to the ombudsman.
A recommendation from One Voice Wales, a body which represents town and community councils in Wales, suggests each council should have a Local Resoultion Protocol to deal with lowlevel complaints, particularly between councillors themselves.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s standards committee heard that the public services ombudsman for Wales has voiced his concerns about the number of low-level complaints coming to him, given the scarce resources he has to deal with them.
Chris Jones, the head of democratic and legal services at the council, said the recommendation is that “member-on-member” complaints should be resolved “locally and quickly”.
However, the recommednation says that complaints from members of the public, serious complaints or complaints from the clerk of the council should still be referred to the ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s summary of complaints made against councillors from April last year to March this year showed there were six made against RCT town or community councillors and two against RCT county borough councillors.
The complaints related to comments on social media, bullying and failure to show respect to others, but none of them were investigated by the ombudsman.
One of the independent members said that some community councils, such as Llantwit Fardre, already have a complaints procedure in place.
Councillor Michael Forey said the recommendations were “common sense”.
“If they can be with locally, then should be,” he added.
Cllr Forey also asked about vexatious complaints which may be repeated and unjustified.
Mr Jones replied that this may be something for the standards committee itself to deal with in terms dealt they of time-wasting.
The chair of the standards committee, Melvin Jehu, asked what the adoption rate had been like for complaints protocols among RCT’s community and town councils.
A council officer said that take-up has been limited but that there is an opportunity to make public the fact that this is available.