Unfortunately, scenes reminiscent of the Handforth Parish Council meeting were repeated as Maldon District Council met on Thursday 4 November.
The agenda included sanctions against independent councillor Mr Morris after the council’s joint standards committee found he had brought the authority into disrepute, following two independent investigations.
The minutes say he disclosed confidential information and on several occasions his ‘conduct met the definition of bullying’.
The meeting was abandoned after police officers were called amid claims of disruptive behaviour.
SLCC, National Association of Local Councils (NALC), county associations of local councils and One Voice Wales (OVW) have joined together to form the Civility and Respect Project Working Group and, on 4 October, hired Michelle Moss as the Project Manager who will focus on bringing forward the objectives of the group and will work closely with SLCC, NALC, OVW and the county associations in the joint approach to raising standards and behaviour throughout the sector.
The following mission statement summarises the core aims and values for securing permanent change in the sector:
‘Civility and respect should be at the heart of public life and good governance is fundamental to ensuring an effective and well-functioning democracy at all levels.
The intimidation, abuse, bullying and harassment of councillors, professional officers and staff, in person or online, is totally unacceptable; whether that is by councillors, professional officers, staff or members of the public.
This can prevent councils from functioning effectively, councillors from representing local people, discourage people from getting involved including standing for election, and undermine public confidence and trust in local democracy….’
An article published in the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) online on 5 November, states, ‘senior local government figures have criticised Downing Street’s attitude to standards in public life, amid growing disappointment that the government is still yet to act to strengthen the standards regime for local government.’
‘It is almost three years since the Committee on Standards in Public Life published its review of local government ethical standards, and the government still has not responded by strengthening the current standards regime, despite saying at the time it would respond within three months.’