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Integrity : Bridgend Town Council

Report date

19/07/2022

Subject

Integrity

Outcome

CODE

Case ref number

202102372

Report type

CODE - No Action Necessary

Relevant body

Bridgend Town Council

It was alleged that a Councillor (“the Member”) disclosed confidential information on Facebook when she shared information about a discussion which took place in a private council session and that this may amount to breach of the Code of Conduct.

The investigation considered the following paragraphs of the Code of Conduct:

  • 5(a)Members must not – disclose confidential information or information which should reasonably be regarded as being of a confidential nature, without the express consent of a person authorised to give such consent, or unless required by law to do so.
  • 6(1)(a) Members must not – conduct [themselves] in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing [their] office or authority into disrepute.
  • 7(a) Members must not – in [their] official capacity or otherwise, use or attempt to use [their] position improperly to confer on or secure for [themselves], or any other person, an advantage or create or avoid for [themselves], or any other person, a disadvantage.

During the course of the investigation, information from the Community Council was considered, including meeting minutes.  Witnesses were also interviewed.

The investigation found that the Member posted a comment on her personal Facebook account.  The content of the comments related to Council matters and her role within the Council.  The Ombudsman considered that the Member gave the impression she was relying on her status as a member and therefore that the Code of Conduct was fully engaged in relation to the comment.

The Ombudsman found that the meeting discussions and the minutes of the meeting were confidential and sharing that information could be suggestive of a breach of paragraph 5(a) of the Code of Conduct.  However, the Ombudsman found that during the full Council meeting that took place, some information was shared during the public element of the meeting and was documented in the minutes of the meeting which were shared publicly.  Therefore, the Ombudsman did not consider that there was evidence suggestive of a breach of paragraphs 6(1)(a) and 7(a) of the Code of Conduct.  The Ombudsman was satisfied that, in view of the information which was in the public domain, the impact of the substance of the comment being shared was limited.  The Ombudsman found that under Section 69(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000, no action needed to be taken in respect of the matters investigated.

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