Shropshire Council (20 012 629)

Category : Other Categories > Councillor conduct and standards

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s decision not to investigate a complaint that several councillors had breached the code of conduct. There is no evidence of fault in the way the Council considered the complaint.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, I shall call Ms X, complains several councillors breached the code of conduct by making explicit, sexist remarks during a political party meeting.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Ms X and discussed the complaint with her.

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What I found

  1. Ms X complained to the Council that several town and county councillors had breached the code of conduct by making explicit, sexist remarks about women. She provided a transcript of the meeting.
  2. The Council’s solicitor wrote to Ms X. He explained the Monitoring Officer could not code consider the complaint. The code of conduct engages only when councillors are acting in their role as councillor. This is not the case when they are attending political party meetings or engaging in private political party conversations.
  3. The Council confirmed the Monitoring Officer did not condone the alleged comments. It suggested that complaints about political party members should probably be made to the relevant local political party association.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint. I have seen no evidence of fault in the way the Council considered Ms X’s complaint.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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