Decision Maker: Governance Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
13.1 The Committee was reminded that a motion on the abuse of members and staff to the County Council in December 2019 had been referred to the Cabinet Member for Economy and Corporate Resources for consideration. The Cabinet Member was broadly supportive of the motion and, as a result, some changes were being proposed to the policy on dealing with malicious communications. As this fell within the responsibility of the Committee members were asked to consider a report by the Director of Law and Assurance and the Interim Director of Human Resources and Organisational Change on the proposed revisions (copy appended to the signed minutes).
13.2 Cllr Edwards, who had proposed the motion at the Council meeting, had been invited to attend the Committee. He expressed his thanks to the Cabinet Member for his work on the aspects of the proposals put forward in the motion, including the policy before the Committee for consideration, and set out the background to the motion. He referred to his personal experience of abuse and threats connected to his role as a county councillor. In the light of this he believed the definition of hate crime should be broadened to include an individual’s political beliefs or affiliation so that malicious communications aimed at councillors received the same level of response as other hate crimes. Otherwise such actions could stifle political opinion or debate or discourage people from standing for election.
13.3 In his view it was important that members should receive guidance on how to deal with malicious communications and he welcomed the inclusion of members in the policy before the Committee.
13.4 The Committee welcomed the proposals although a comment was made that it was not a widespread problem in the county. The Cabinet Member for Economy and Corporate Resources confirmed that members as well as staff could access the Employee Assistance Programme referred to in Appendix A to the report.
13.5 Resolved –
(1) That the revised Policy on Dealing with unreasonable complaints and unacceptable behaviour (attached at Appendix A to the report) be approved; and
(2) That the action taken to date to address issues raised in the notice of motion be noted.
Publication date: 26/06/2020
Date of decision: 22/06/2020
Decided at meeting: 22/06/2020 - Governance Committee