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Ferryhill Town Councillors encouraged to improve conduct
COUNCILLORS are to be given a lesson in being nice to one another after a series of complaints about their conduct.
Durham County Council has called for a meeting with all members of Ferryhill Town Council to discuss a series of behavioural issues that have arisen from recent meetings.
Deputy monitoring officer David Taylor will invite all councillors to a meeting to try to establish ‘why differences of opinion between members cannot be entertained and debated in a civilised manner’.
He hopes to ‘focus members’ attention on serving constituents rather than pursuing long running arguments on how the council is run or engaging in personal feuds’.
Mr Taylor’s attempt at resolution comes after Durham County Council’s standards committee received seven complaints regarding the conduct of members of Ferryhill Town Council during October and November last year.
Four of the complaints directly related to a town council meeting in October when police were called to Ferryhill Town Hall after members voted to exclude two councillors for inappropriate conduct.
The two councillors involved left the town hall peacefully.
Mr Taylor considered allegations that members breached the council’s code of conduct by failing to behave in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as respectful or would regard as bullying or intimidatory.
He ruled that the behaviour was not acceptable even if the councillors genuinely believed the process being followed was unconstitutional.
He said a clear line has to be drawn between have respect for others and the freedom to disagree and comments. He will encourage them to express ideas or arguments as part and parcel of political debate without aiming comments at a person and their personal characteristics.
Mr Taylor said: “In this instance, the sanctions available to the standards committee do not warrant investing time in a formal investigation and hearing process. “It will hopefully be more fruitful to use that time in an attempt to mediate the differences between the opposing parties.”
A meeting had been scheduled for January 23 but was postponed due to bad weather and will be rearranged.