‘You must not bully’: New rules proposed for Portsmouth councillors

Portsmouth City Council Civic Offices
Portsmouth City Council Civic Offices

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THE crackdown on bad behaviour at Portsmouth City Council has stepped up a gear.

A revised code of conduct for councillors has been proposed which clearly states they must not bully anyone.

And the document also makes it clear they must not intimidate anyone who makes a formal complaint about their attitude.

Tory councillor Simon Bosher, in charge of the authority’s complaints committee, has helped put together the new manual, which goes before the full council tomorrow.

He said there was a need to make the rules more specific and professional.

Cllr Bosher said: ‘Bullying wasn’t actually said in the previous code of conduct.

‘The previous code has been much an implied thing as much as a written down thing, in the same way we all know there is certain language that you can’t use in the council chamber.

‘In the past there have been accusations which have been difficult to prove.

‘This brings things more in line with the way council officers are expected to behave in a workplace environment.’

It comes after Guildford solicitor Richard Lingard carried out an investigation to determine whether there was a ‘culture of bullying’ on the council. While he concluded a bullying culture did not exist, Mr Lingard said certain members needed to sort out their act and stop being childish on social media.

Cllr Bosher also said there would be a crackdown on ‘frivolous complaints’ and a ‘filtering process’ would be introduced to stop everything reported going forward to an investigation.

But he insisted everything would be treated seriously – and if councillors are found to be bullying they could be suspended.

‘We have had complaints come forward where someone has made an inappropriate comment in the chamber,’ he said.

‘It’s picked up at the time, that person apologies, that should be the end of it. But someone then has decided they will make something political out of it by making a formal complaint.’

New version of code of conduct

The proposed new version of the city council’s code of conduct reads includes:

* You must not bully any person.

* You must not intimidate, or try to intimidate, anyone who has complained about you or who may be involved with a complaint about you.

* You must not do anything which compromises the impartiality of the authority’s officers.

* You must not disclose confidential information (other than in very limited circumstances permitted by law, and following consultation with the authority’s monitoring officer).

* You must not prevent a person from gaining access to information to which they are entitled.

* You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.

* You must not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself or any other person an advantage or disadvantage.