Report Date

02/22/2023

Case Against

Powys County Council

Subject

Objectivity & propriety

Case Reference Number

202101250

Outcome

Referred to the Adjudication Panel for Wales

The Ombudsman’s office received complaints that a Member of Powys County Council had breached the Code of Conduct.  The Member was not re-elected in May 2022 (“the Former Member”).  It was alleged that the Former Member had:

  • Disclosed confidential information.
  • Made allegations without evidence to support them to a wide audience.
  • Behaved inappropriately during a confidential session of the full Council meeting on 15 July.
  • Made unreasonable demands.
  • Demanded an unreasonable amount of officer time and attention.
  • Made vexatious complaints and complaints without foundation.
  • Used an unreasonable amount of Council resources.
  • Behaved inappropriately during a confidential session of the full Council meeting on 15 July.

The investigation considered whether the Former Member failed to comply with the following provisions of the Code of Conduct:

  • 4(b) – To show respect and consideration for others.
  • 4(c) – Not to use bullying behaviour or harass any person.
  • 5(a) – Not to 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) – Not to conduct herself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing her office or authority into disrepute.
  • 6(1)(d) – Not to make vexatious, malicious or frivolous complaints against other members or anyone who works for, or on behalf of, her authority.
  • 7(b) (i) – Not to use, or authorise others to use, the resources of her authority imprudently.
  • 7(b)(iv) – Not to use, or authorise others to use, the resources of her authority other than in a manner which is calculated to facilitate, or to be conducive to, the discharge of the functions of the authority or of the office to which she has been elected or appointed.

During the investigation documentation and information received from the Council was reviewed and witness evidence was obtained from senior officers of the Council, elected Members of the Council and a member of the public.  The investigation also obtained an account from the Former Member.

The investigation found the Former Member’s conduct was suggestive of a breach of paragraphs 4(b), 4(c), 5(a), 6(1)(a), 6(1)(d), 7(b)(i) and 7(b)(iv) of the Code of Conduct.

The report on the investigation was referred to the President of the Adjudication Panel for Wales for adjudication by a tribunal.

The Tribunal concluded that the Former Member had breached paragraphs 4(b), 4(c), 5(a), 6(1)(a) and 6(1)(d) of the Code of Conduct.  Accordingly, the Tribunal decided that the Former Member should be disqualified for 18 months from being or becoming a member of the authority or of any other relevant authority.