Posted: 11.01.21 at 20:09 by Ethan Davies, Local Democracy Reporter
More than 20 complaints were levelled against Cheshire East councillors last year — but none were investigated by officials.
Data from a freedom of information request by the LDRS shows that 23 complaints were made against CEC members in 2019/20, with none being formally looked into.
The number of complaints has remained consistent from 2017 — when data began to be held in a “searchable format” — with 23 in 2017/18, and 28 in 2018/19.
Four complaints were investigated in the former time period, with three in the second, but no action was taken in any case.
Cheshire East Council chief executive, Lorraine O’Donnell, said: “There is a formal procedure for registering a complaint against an elected member of the council and that complaint is examined in detail by the council’s monitoring officer, who will decide whether there is sufficient evidence and justification for the complaint to be investigated by the council’s audit and governance committee.
“There is a range of criteria set out in the members’ code of conduct and if the complaint does not meet any of the specific criteria, the complaint will not go forward for further investigation. All relevant information is published on our website.
“Under the 2011 Localism Act, all councils are required to adopt a code of conduct as part of their constitution. Any complaint against an elected member of this council is viewed seriously and the monitoring officer is the independent legal officer for the council who will determine whether any further action is required.”
Although no formal investigations were undertaken, the borough’s code of arrangements allows CEC’s monitoring officer to take a case to ‘informal resolution’.
Informal resolution can result in actions like an apology being issued, mediation offered, training provided, referral to the member’s group leader, or “some other practical ‘conflict management’ agreement between the complainant and subject member”.
Residents may only make a complaint about a councillors' behaviour.