Report Date

02/17/2022

Case Against

Mid and West Wales Fire Service

Subject

Selflessness & stewardship

Case Reference Number

202002848

Outcome

Referred to Standards Committee

The Ombudsman received a complaint from a member of the public that¬†a¬†Member (‚Äúthe Member‚ÄĚ) of Mid and West Wales Fire Authority (‚Äúthe¬†Authority‚ÄĚ) had breached the Authority‚Äôs Code of Conduct.¬† It was alleged that the Member had improperly used his position as a member of the Authority when corresponding with the complainant about a civil matter.

The Ombudsman found that the Member had relied on his position as a Member of the Authority and had written to the complainant to require removal of a gate which the Member had determined posed a fire risk.  The evidence obtained by the Ombudsman suggested that the Member had no authority to determine whether the gate posed a fire risk and that such functions were for the Fire Service, not for the Authority or its Members.

The Ombudsman concluded that the Member may have breached paragraph 7(a) of the Code of Conduct as he used his position as a Member of the Authority improperly to secure an advantage for his clients in a private civil dispute.

The Ombudsman considered that the tone of the Member’s correspondence to the complainant was inappropriate.  During the course of the investigation, the Member made a number of comments about the complainant’s mental health, which the Ombudsman considered to be disrespectful and discriminatory in respect of a potential disability.

The Ombudsman determined that the Member may have breached the Authority’s Code of Conduct, in particular paragraphs 4(a) and 4(b), as the Member failed to carry out his duties and responsibilities without due regard to equality of opportunity for all regardless of their disability, and a failure to show respect and consideration to the complainant.

The Ombudsman considered that the Member’s actions could reasonably be regarded as behaviour which might bring the office of the Member or the Council into disrepute and a potential breach of paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.

The Ombudsman referred his investigation report to the Authority’s Monitoring Officer for consideration by its Standards Committee.

The Authority’s Standards Committee held a hearing on 17 May 2023 and found that the Member, who was no longer a Member of the Authority at the time of the hearing, had breached paragraphs 4(a), 4(b), 6(1)(a) and 7(a) of the Code of Conduct and decided to censure him.