‘No effective sanction’ for social media misuse - East Hampshire District Council

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THE leader of a council has urged the government to give it more powers to deal with councillors who make offensive comments on social media.

Councillor Phiip Drury, of East Hampshire District Council, stepped down as leader of the Liberal Democrat group after he was criticised for making disparaging remarks about an alleged rape victim on Facebook.
He remains an independent councillor after an independent disciplinary investigation found he did not breach the code of conduct because he was not acting in his capacity as a councillor at the time.
But Councillor Ferris Cowper, leader of East Hampshire District Council, said he wants to ensure that the council can act in similar situations in future.
He said: ‘As a district council we will be making representations to Lord Bew, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, asking for it to consider behaviour on social media.
‘We believe there should be sanctions available to recognise the impact such behaviour has on the reputation of public bodies that councillors represent.’
He added: ‘It is increasingly clear that since the government removed the national body overseeing councillor conduct, called Standards for England, local councils have no effective sanction that can be applied to councillors guilty of this degree of unacceptable conduct.’
Serena Bowes, 21, who waived her right to anonymity, alleged she was sexually assaulted in an Italian nightclub.