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Committee gets tough
Friday 21st June, 2013

Members of the standards committee met earlier this week (Tuesday 18th June) to discuss the idea of imposing tougher penalties on councillors found behaving badly.

Under the recommendations, which will be decided at Council next month (17th July), councillors found guilty of breaching the Code of Conduct, could face additional penalties, such as losing their right to bid for funds under the Brighter Borough Scheme.

Seventeen complaints about the behaviour of councillors were received from 1st April 2012 - 31st March 2013, eight of which were lodged by councillors, costing the authority almost 20,000.

It is hoped that the additional penalties will reduce the number of complaints received and therefore reduce the amount of taxpayers' money spent on resolving complaints while speeding the process up.

At the meeting councillors spoke of the need to address the rising number of complaints, (from 10 in 2011/12 to 17 last year) with the committee's new chair, Councillor Charlie Rigby commenting:

"It is our job to make sure that members understand the consequences of their actions.

"The introduction of additional penalties will give the committee some teeth and will hopefully deter members from breaching the code of conduct in the first place."

Cllr Terry Halliwell, vacating chair, added:

"It is unfortunate that Wigan Borough Council is once again receiving more complaints about elected members than any others within the Greater Manchester conurbation. It is equally disappointing that we still receive a significant number of member against member complaints, that have been considered of little merit by the monitoring officer in consultation with the Independent Person. This places an unnecessary strain on our departments and their officers, and removes thousands of pounds from our annual budget that could be put to better use maintaining front line services for local residents."

For the full report, visit: http://democracy.wigan.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=132&Year=0&a=1

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