The game's up at County Hall - new guidelines to be handed to councillors after Solitaire saga

Malvern Gazette: Councillor Fran Oborski, a Liberal Councillor Fran Oborski, a Liberal

COUNCILLORS are to be issued with new guidelines governing how they should behave following complaints one councillor was spotted playing computer games during a debate.

Worcestershire County Council is going to draw up new guidance on what is expected of members after Fran Oborski was spotted playing Solitaire on her Ipad.

However, the new rules will only apply to meetings of the full council, because they are broadcast live on the website and are the main forum for voting on important decisions, like the budget.

At a meeting to discuss the issue yesterday, fellow councillors and members of the public said it was "unacceptable" for Cllr Oborski to play Solitaire during debates.

One resident, who was invited to attend the meeting to give his views, said it "almost" brought the council into disrepute and said no councillor should be playing games while debates are taking place.

The fresh guidance will now be drawn up by the council's legal chief Simon Mallinson and is expected to be published in July.

Your Worcester News revealed in March how Cllr Oborski, a Liberal, was spotted playing Solitaire on her iPad at a full council meeting.

It was the third time in one year that we had highlighted it, and it was later reported in satirical magazine Private Eye.

On one occasion a member of the public sat behind her at a meeting took a photo of her playing the game.

After a complaint was made to Worcestershire County Council the standards and ethics committee met yesterday yesterday to discuss it.

Councillor Stephen Peters said: "I think all of us would agree it's not acceptable to be playing games in a meeting.

"The message needs to go out to all members of the council that it's unacceptable, and the perception it sends to constituents and residents, as well as the perception it sends out of the way the whole council is operating."

Councillor Joe Baker said: "Would you see Tesco staff playing on their mobile phone while they are on a check-out, or someone in hospital doing the same when they are with a patient? I don't think so.

"Everyone in the council chamber should be focusing on the business at hand.

"There clearly needs to be stricter guidelines."

Dr Murray Mylechreest, a member of the public who sits on the panel, said: "The public will think 'we've elected them, they are voting on matters of concern', to me if they are playing games it almost brings the council's position into disrepute."

Councillor Ken Pollock appealed for councillors to be "realistic", saying MPs in the commons do not always focus completely on the matter they are debating.

He said it shouldn't always be regarded as disrespectful, pointing to the days when MPs were using pagers, technology which is now long redundant.

Councillor Anne Hingley, the chair, said: "What is clear from this debate is that we need to be more prescriptive."

The committee agreed to allow Mr Mallinson to draw up new guidelines, which are expected to focus on full council meetings only.

After the meeting Cllr Oborski said: "Solitaire is my screen saver so when it freezes it's always there, that was my problem.

"People are capable of multi-tasking but I do agree there needs to be guidance."

She said "without naming names" other councillors and officers had emailed her during council meetings, on topics not relevant to what was being debated.

It has been decided no further action should be taken against Cllr Oborski.

Comments (23)

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9:51am Thu 1 May 14

Andy-Apache says...

Some employers would regard that as misuse of IT equipment and she'd be at the very least reprimanded.
Some employers would regard that as misuse of IT equipment and she'd be at the very least reprimanded. Andy-Apache
  • Score: 17

9:54am Thu 1 May 14

Hwicce says...

Maybe it just shows that Council meetings are just a lot of boring hot air.
Maybe it just shows that Council meetings are just a lot of boring hot air. Hwicce
  • Score: 2

10:10am Thu 1 May 14

CJH says...

IF you have to be told what is, or is not, appropriate then you shouldn't be in a position of responsibility! And they wonder why we don't either trust or respect them.
IF you have to be told what is, or is not, appropriate then you shouldn't be in a position of responsibility! And they wonder why we don't either trust or respect them. CJH
  • Score: 31

12:07pm Thu 1 May 14

Ted Elgar says...

She was probably still listening to the meeting. These things are so incredibly boring that doodling / other such activity can help keep you engaged.
She was probably still listening to the meeting. These things are so incredibly boring that doodling / other such activity can help keep you engaged. Ted Elgar
  • Score: -21

12:39pm Thu 1 May 14

CJH says...

Ted Elgar wrote:
She was probably still listening to the meeting. These things are so incredibly boring that doodling / other such activity can help keep you engaged.
What utter rubbish. She neeeds to show respect to the process, her other councillors, and most of all the electorate. If it's 'boring' then maybe she needs to find something else to do. As for her excuse: "Solitaire is my screen saver so when it freezes it's always there, that was my problem" What a load of baloney.
[quote][p][bold]Ted Elgar[/bold] wrote: She was probably still listening to the meeting. These things are so incredibly boring that doodling / other such activity can help keep you engaged.[/p][/quote]What utter rubbish. She neeeds to show respect to the process, her other councillors, and most of all the electorate. If it's 'boring' then maybe she needs to find something else to do. As for her excuse: "Solitaire is my screen saver so when it freezes it's always there, that was my problem" What a load of baloney. CJH
  • Score: 22

1:01pm Thu 1 May 14

Andy-Apache says...

I go to boring meetings. I use them to catch up on much needed sleep, using those specs with eyes painted on them to disguise my closed eyes.

Not really, I grin and bear them because that's what I get paid to do. Perhaps she should try it, or leave, and let someone who cares about the job do it?
I go to boring meetings. I use them to catch up on much needed sleep, using those specs with eyes painted on them to disguise my closed eyes. Not really, I grin and bear them because that's what I get paid to do. Perhaps she should try it, or leave, and let someone who cares about the job do it? Andy-Apache
  • Score: 21

2:13pm Thu 1 May 14

chrism says...

Andy-Apache wrote:
I go to boring meetings. I use them to catch up on much needed sleep, using those specs with eyes painted on them to disguise my closed eyes.

Not really, I grin and bear them because that's what I get paid to do. Perhaps she should try it, or leave, and let someone who cares about the job do it?
You joke, but at the notorious and very important MHDC full council meeting concerning the SWDP 18 months ago one of the councillors did fall asleep - I won't name names, but I understand she is well known for doing so in meetings!
[quote][p][bold]Andy-Apache[/bold] wrote: I go to boring meetings. I use them to catch up on much needed sleep, using those specs with eyes painted on them to disguise my closed eyes. Not really, I grin and bear them because that's what I get paid to do. Perhaps she should try it, or leave, and let someone who cares about the job do it?[/p][/quote]You joke, but at the notorious and very important MHDC full council meeting concerning the SWDP 18 months ago one of the councillors did fall asleep - I won't name names, but I understand she is well known for doing so in meetings! chrism
  • Score: 9

2:18pm Thu 1 May 14

CJH says...

chrism wrote:
Andy-Apache wrote:
I go to boring meetings. I use them to catch up on much needed sleep, using those specs with eyes painted on them to disguise my closed eyes.

Not really, I grin and bear them because that's what I get paid to do. Perhaps she should try it, or leave, and let someone who cares about the job do it?
You joke, but at the notorious and very important MHDC full council meeting concerning the SWDP 18 months ago one of the councillors did fall asleep - I won't name names, but I understand she is well known for doing so in meetings!
Oh go on, name names! It was a public meeting wasn't it? Outing a few people may make the others sharpen their acts up a bit. It's worth a go.
[quote][p][bold]chrism[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andy-Apache[/bold] wrote: I go to boring meetings. I use them to catch up on much needed sleep, using those specs with eyes painted on them to disguise my closed eyes. Not really, I grin and bear them because that's what I get paid to do. Perhaps she should try it, or leave, and let someone who cares about the job do it?[/p][/quote]You joke, but at the notorious and very important MHDC full council meeting concerning the SWDP 18 months ago one of the councillors did fall asleep - I won't name names, but I understand she is well known for doing so in meetings![/p][/quote]Oh go on, name names! It was a public meeting wasn't it? Outing a few people may make the others sharpen their acts up a bit. It's worth a go. CJH
  • Score: 14

3:03pm Thu 1 May 14

skychip says...

Shows how she had no regard for what was being debated.
Shows how she had no regard for what was being debated. skychip
  • Score: 11

4:18pm Thu 1 May 14

New Kid on the Block says...

"However, the new rules will only apply to meetings of the full council, because they are broadcast live on the website and are the main forum for voting on important decisions, like the budget. "
Why are meetings other than full council meetings considered to be sufficiently unimportant that it is acceptable to play games?
Any Councillor found to be playing games during a meeting should not be allowed to claim any expenses as they obviously were not giving it their full attention.
It is also extremely rude and disrespectful behaviour. I demand higher standards than this of my representatives and would expect disciplinary action to be taken.
As for the stupid and rather suspect claim that it is her screen saver, if it has caused comment 3 times in one year does she not realise that it is time to change it. Probably not if she needs to call for guidance on what is acceptable during meetings.
"However, the new rules will only apply to meetings of the full council, because they are broadcast live on the website and are the main forum for voting on important decisions, like the budget. " Why are meetings other than full council meetings considered to be sufficiently unimportant that it is acceptable to play games? Any Councillor found to be playing games during a meeting should not be allowed to claim any expenses as they obviously were not giving it their full attention. It is also extremely rude and disrespectful behaviour. I demand higher standards than this of my representatives and would expect disciplinary action to be taken. As for the stupid and rather suspect claim that it is her screen saver, if it has caused comment 3 times in one year does she not realise that it is time to change it. Probably not if she needs to call for guidance on what is acceptable during meetings. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 14

5:16pm Thu 1 May 14

kimik8 says...

"However, the new rules will only apply to meetings of the full council, because they are broadcast live on the website

So when no one is looking it's acceptable?
I think a verbal warning is needed and a disciplinary .. after all that is what anyone else would face if this happened in the work place.
"However, the new rules will only apply to meetings of the full council, because they are broadcast live on the website So when no one is looking it's acceptable? I think a verbal warning is needed and a disciplinary .. after all that is what anyone else would face if this happened in the work place. kimik8
  • Score: 15

8:19pm Thu 1 May 14

mrwrighty says...

What is wrong with pen and paper. Can I withhold my council tax until I can afford an iPad.
What is wrong with pen and paper. Can I withhold my council tax until I can afford an iPad. mrwrighty
  • Score: 14

11:19pm Thu 1 May 14

The Villan says...

Do as I say, not as I do!

What arrogance, all mobile phones and iPads etc should be switched off during all council meetings, not just televised meetings.
Do as I say, not as I do! What arrogance, all mobile phones and iPads etc should be switched off during all council meetings, not just televised meetings. The Villan
  • Score: 21

9:14am Fri 2 May 14

Lord Newbold says...

Having witnessed how some Councillors from all parties behave during all council meetings. I am of the opinion councillors who are supposed to sit through meetings on behalf of the constituents that elected them should be penalised if they leave any meetings prior to its conclusion. Playing games of any kind is not in the best interest of those they represent or the council in general.
Once councillors could only claim, an attendance allowance that I hasten to say did not always cover a member’s loss of earnings. If a meeting could not be concluded before 2200 hrs. Then the meeting would be adjourned, until the next meeting of that particular committee. What kept most members in attendance was the makeup of committees. However, our present system allows all councillors the Sum of several thousand pounds just for being a Councillor whether they attend meetings or not.
Having witnessed how some Councillors from all parties behave during all council meetings. I am of the opinion councillors who are supposed to sit through meetings on behalf of the constituents that elected them should be penalised if they leave any meetings prior to its conclusion. Playing games of any kind is not in the best interest of those they represent or the council in general. Once councillors could only claim, an attendance allowance that I hasten to say did not always cover a member’s loss of earnings. If a meeting could not be concluded before 2200 hrs. Then the meeting would be adjourned, until the next meeting of that particular committee. What kept most members in attendance was the makeup of committees. However, our present system allows all councillors the Sum of several thousand pounds just for being a Councillor whether they attend meetings or not. Lord Newbold
  • Score: 9

12:57pm Fri 2 May 14

Jabbadad says...

Rules need imposing about expected involvement /behavour of councillors attending meetings. I have also witness Lucy Hodgson otherwise engaged between yawns at cabinet and other meetings, and Chris Mitchell at Ciy meetings. It's all about a lack of leadership.
And yes over the Councillors expenses the County Boys & Girls cost we taxpayers over £800,000 per year, in attendance allowaces and expenses plus they get an allowance for the Wards they represent. It's not a public duty it's a very well paid job. Pity they don't do a very good job
Rules need imposing about expected involvement /behavour of councillors attending meetings. I have also witness Lucy Hodgson otherwise engaged between yawns at cabinet and other meetings, and Chris Mitchell at Ciy meetings. It's all about a lack of leadership. And yes over the Councillors expenses the County Boys & Girls cost we taxpayers over £800,000 per year, in attendance allowaces and expenses plus they get an allowance for the Wards they represent. It's not a public duty it's a very well paid job. Pity they don't do a very good job Jabbadad
  • Score: 10

7:22pm Fri 2 May 14

old misery says...

If we need a set of rules to set coucillors of how to behave in meetings then god help us and why should it take until July to get these drawn up oh Sorry forgot health and safety and human rights will have to be discussed (Two further meeting)
If we need a set of rules to set coucillors of how to behave in meetings then god help us and why should it take until July to get these drawn up oh Sorry forgot health and safety and human rights will have to be discussed (Two further meeting) old misery
  • Score: 9

11:10pm Fri 2 May 14

CHANDBRUSH says...

Do the public think that councillors care about their constituents they are mostly on the council for an ego trip hence the Hive.
Do the public think that councillors care about their constituents they are mostly on the council for an ego trip hence the Hive. CHANDBRUSH
  • Score: 5

11:52pm Fri 2 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

Andy-Apache wrote:
Some employers would regard that as misuse of IT equipment and she'd be at the very least reprimanded.
THINK COMPANIES WOULD CONSIDER IT TO BE GROSS MISCONDUCT.
WHICH WOULD RESULT IN BEING DISMISSED.
That could still be the case if the electorate (who the actual employers) decide to consider her actions whenher re-election next comes up.
[quote][p][bold]Andy-Apache[/bold] wrote: Some employers would regard that as misuse of IT equipment and she'd be at the very least reprimanded.[/p][/quote]THINK COMPANIES WOULD CONSIDER IT TO BE GROSS MISCONDUCT. WHICH WOULD RESULT IN BEING DISMISSED. That could still be the case if the electorate (who the actual employers) decide to consider her actions whenher re-election next comes up. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 13

8:20am Mon 5 May 14

green49 says...

Allan Whitehead says...

Andy-Apache wrote:
Some employers would regard that as misuse of IT equipment and she'd be at the very least reprimanded.
THINK COMPANIES WOULD CONSIDER IT TO BE GROSS MISCONDUCT.
WHICH WOULD RESULT IN BEING DISMISSED.
That could still be the case if the electorate (who the actual employers) decide to consider her actions whenher re-election next comes up.

Great points above, , ive sat in on these meetings open to public and its obvious sometimes a lot of the councillors just turn up and thats it, some are very good at what they do, some are just plain arrogant and some are a complete waste of taxpayers money, as its said above get out and let someone in who wants to do the job properly.

After all the cuts that have taken place and mainly to support, care, etc etc which has been cut by hundreds of thousands of pounds this last few weeks we all should be looking at ourselves and getting these government yes men and women out, wait and see how your loved ones are supported when need takes over?? there will be nothing but the ones who are making the decision are the ones responsible.
Allan Whitehead says... Andy-Apache wrote: Some employers would regard that as misuse of IT equipment and she'd be at the very least reprimanded. THINK COMPANIES WOULD CONSIDER IT TO BE GROSS MISCONDUCT. WHICH WOULD RESULT IN BEING DISMISSED. That could still be the case if the electorate (who the actual employers) decide to consider her actions whenher re-election next comes up. Great points above, , ive sat in on these meetings open to public and its obvious sometimes a lot of the councillors just turn up and thats it, some are very good at what they do, some are just plain arrogant and some are a complete waste of taxpayers money, as its said above get out and let someone in who wants to do the job properly. After all the cuts that have taken place and mainly to support, care, etc etc which has been cut by hundreds of thousands of pounds this last few weeks we all should be looking at ourselves and getting these government yes men and women out, wait and see how your loved ones are supported when need takes over?? there will be nothing but the ones who are making the decision are the ones responsible. green49
  • Score: 6

8:22am Mon 5 May 14

green49 says...

To add to the above, councillors are there to work not play games on ipads, Fran Oborski should resign,
To add to the above, councillors are there to work not play games on ipads, Fran Oborski should resign, green49
  • Score: 14

8:49am Mon 5 May 14

Allan Whitehead says...

green49 wrote:
To add to the above, councillors are there to work not play games on ipads, Fran Oborski should resign,
Sir/Madam,
That would be the honourable thing to do. Yet if she plays games while supposedly representing her constituents is stealing from the local authority.
II may be some what biased by not being a Liberal Democrat supporter. However, if she had been of my political persuasion I would been far more critical of their actions.
[quote][p][bold]green49[/bold] wrote: To add to the above, councillors are there to work not play games on ipads, Fran Oborski should resign,[/p][/quote]Sir/Madam, That would be the honourable thing to do. Yet if she plays games while supposedly representing her constituents is stealing from the local authority. II may be some what biased by not being a Liberal Democrat supporter. However, if she had been of my political persuasion I would been far more critical of their actions. Allan Whitehead
  • Score: 7

11:18am Tue 6 May 14

brooksider says...

Allan Whitehead wrote:
green49 wrote:
To add to the above, councillors are there to work not play games on ipads, Fran Oborski should resign,
Sir/Madam,
That would be the honourable thing to do. Yet if she plays games while supposedly representing her constituents is stealing from the local authority.
II may be some what biased by not being a Liberal Democrat supporter. However, if she had been of my political persuasion I would been far more critical of their actions.
Fran Oborski is a Liberal, not one of the Liberal Democrat splitters.
[quote][p][bold]Allan Whitehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]green49[/bold] wrote: To add to the above, councillors are there to work not play games on ipads, Fran Oborski should resign,[/p][/quote]Sir/Madam, That would be the honourable thing to do. Yet if she plays games while supposedly representing her constituents is stealing from the local authority. II may be some what biased by not being a Liberal Democrat supporter. However, if she had been of my political persuasion I would been far more critical of their actions.[/p][/quote]Fran Oborski is a Liberal, not one of the Liberal Democrat splitters. brooksider
  • Score: -5

8:09am Thu 8 May 14

Keith B says...

Although I have never met her, I do know Fran Oborski has been a god community servant for ever. I disagree with her views often, but as a community representative she has been one of the best Worcestershire has ever had. But she is the bain of the establishment, so as they so often do, they have set her up with a negative news story. They do the same with UKIP people.

Worcester News go hand in hand with that establishment. Just take what you read with a pinch of salt.

We DO have some very poor Councillors - Fran Oborski is not one of them.

And Brooksider is right - she never did become a Liberal Democrat but stuck to her principles and stayed with the old Liberal Party that still exists in small pockets around the Country.

Keep going lady - don't let the establishment get to you
Although I have never met her, I do know Fran Oborski has been a god community servant for ever. I disagree with her views often, but as a community representative she has been one of the best Worcestershire has ever had. But she is the bain of the establishment, so as they so often do, they have set her up with a negative news story. They do the same with UKIP people. Worcester News go hand in hand with that establishment. Just take what you read with a pinch of salt. We DO have some very poor Councillors - Fran Oborski is not one of them. And Brooksider is right - she never did become a Liberal Democrat but stuck to her principles and stayed with the old Liberal Party that still exists in small pockets around the Country. Keep going lady - don't let the establishment get to you Keith B
  • Score: -3

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