The Ombudsman report concerned a complaint that the Councillor Sean Aspey had breached the Code of Conduct. It was alleged that the Member used his position inappropriately in relation to fundraising efforts to oppose plans by the Ministry of Justice to consider using a Porthcawl hotel to house Wales’ Residential Women’s Centre.

The investigation found that, although the Member’s intentions may have been well meaning, he provided misleading information to residents when they were asked to donate money to a fund which was not necessary, and from which they could not retrieve their money if the anticipated legal action did not take place.  No planning application had actually been submitted so there was no planning application to be challenged at that time.  The Member ought to have known that the information was not correct.  The Ombudsman therefore considered that the Member’s conduct was such that it may amount to a breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.

The Standards Committee of Bridgend County Borough Council concluded that the Councillor Sean Aspey breached paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct by providing misleading and inaccurate information to residents about the Ministry of Justice’s plans for the hotel.  Accordingly, the Standards Committee decided that the Member should be suspended for 3 months.

As the purpose of the ethical standards framework in Wales is to promote high standards for councillors and to maintain public confidence in local democracy, the Ombudsman welcomed the decision to suspend the Councillor and thanked the members of the Standards Committee for their careful consideration of the case.



The Local Government Act 2000 provides us with the statutory powers to investigate allegations that members of local authorities in Wales have breached their Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct for elected members is intended to maintain high standards in public life and includes the requirement that elected members should not bring their authority or their office as a councillor into disrepute.

Where our investigation finds that the evidence suggests that a member has breached the Code of Conduct and further action is required in the public interest, we may refer the matter to either the Adjudication Panel for Wales or a local Standards Committee for consideration.

Where the Adjudication Panel for Wales decides that a member has breached the Code of Conduct it may suspend a member from office for up to 12 months or disqualify the member from holding office for up to 5 years.

Where a Standards Committee decides that a member has breached the Code of Conduct it may suspend a member from office for up to 6 months or issue the member with a censure.  Where a member subject to a referral to a Standards Committee no longer holds office as a member the standards committee may only censure the member.