Report Date


Case Against

Bridgend County Borough Council


Promotion of equality & respect

Case Reference Number



No action necessary

The Ombudsman received a complaint that a Member (“the Member”) of Bridgend Town Council (“the Council”) posted comments on social media that alleged impropriety on the part of members of the Council.

The Ombudsman’s investigation considered whether the Member’s conduct may have breached paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.  Information was obtained from the Council, including minutes of relevant Council meetings.  The complainant provided screenshots of comments posted by the Member.  Witnesses, including the complainant, were interviewed.  The Member was interviewed.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the Member posted comments on social media which alleged that members of the Council may have acted improperly in awarding a contract.  The comments were visible to members of the public.  The Ombudsman found that the comments were serious and suggested impropriety and had the potential to affect the Council’s reputation and the public’s confidence in local democracy.  As a result, the Ombudsman found that the Member’s conduct could reasonably be regarded as bringing the Council into disrepute and was suggestive of a breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code.

In considering whether further action was required in the public interest, the Ombudsman took into account the Member’s explanation for his comments in that he said he had genuine concerns about how the contract had been awarded as the Council had gone against the advice of its Clerk.  The Ombudsman noted that the minutes of the Council meeting, in which the relevant contract was awarded, documented that the Council’s decision was out of step with the explicit advice given by the Clerk.  The Ombudsman found that the Member’s explanation about his concerns appeared to have been founded on what he believed at the time and therefore fell within the bounds of freedom of expression.  The Member did not report the concerns he had but explained he did not know how to do so.  The Ombudsman found that the Member was a new and inexperienced member of the Council who had not received any training on the Code of Conduct.  In view of this, the Ombudsman considered that the Member’s explanation for not reporting his concern appeared credible.  The Member also explained that the comments he posted were in response to comments made of a similar nature by another member of the Council which made similar allegations.  While the conversation had been deleted on social media and was therefore no longer able to view, the screenshots available demonstrated that part of the exchange was missing.  The other member of the Council, with whom the discussion took place, confirmed that the screenshots did not show the full conversation.  In view of this, the Ombudsman considered that the Member’s explanation had greater credibility to explain why he posted the comments complained about.

The Ombudsman found that there was extensive mitigation for the comments made by the Member, not least the failure of the complainant to provide the full screenshots of the conversation which would have provided its full context.  As a result, the Ombudsman did not consider that it was in the public interest for any further action to be taken.

The Ombudsman found that under Section 69(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000, no action needs to be taken in respect of the matters investigated.