CODE - No Action Necessary
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:
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.