Report Date

01/05/2024

Case Against

Bridgend County Borough Council

Subject

Promotion of equality and respect

Case Reference Number

202206441

Outcome

No action necessary

The Ombudsman received a complaint that a member (“the Member”) of Bridgend County Borough Council (“the Council”) had breached the Code of Conduct for members.

The Complainant was concerned that the Member had behaved in an aggressive and disrespectful way towards her during a Development Committee site visit in January 2023. The site visit was arranged so that members of the Development Committee could better understand the site in relation to an application it received, which concerned the route for construction traffic. It was alleged that the Member pointed his finger at the Complainant, encroached upon her personal space, and was aggressive in his manner and tone. It was also alleged he called the Complainant a “silly woman”.

We gathered relevant information from the Monitoring Officer for Bridgend County Borough Council, and we interviewed a number of individuals who were present at the site visit including a local resident, a Councillor and member of Council staff in attendance.

We found the site visit was contentious in nature and tensions were running high, given its sensitivity from the start. On balance it appeared the Member could have handled matters better and his behaviour presented to others as being aggressive. There was insufficient evidence to suggest the member had used the word “woman” in a derogatory term. We found the Member’s behaviour was suggestive of a breach of paragraph 4(b) of the Code which says that members must show respect and consideration of others when conducting council business.

Advice was issued to the Member to be mindful of his future behaviour, particularly when trying to manage contentious and sensitive situations, and to be mindful of his use of language, and how this could be perceived by others. Given this was an isolated incident, it was not proportionate or in the public interest to take any further action in relation to the matter.