MHDC chairman calls for better behaviour from councillors

A SENIOR member of Malvern Hills District Council is calling on fellow councillors to treat each other more respectfully at meetings, and to dress more smartly.

Vice-chairman Mike Morgan will make the call at the council's meeting on Tuesday, June 24.

He said: "In recent months, the council’s monitoring officer has received a number of complaints from members of the public alleging inappropriate behaviour by elected members at council meetings. In his opinion, these complaints are not without foundation."

And he is calling on colleagues to maintain "the highest standards of conduct in all council dealings and particularly at committee and council meetings".

Among his requests is for councillors "to pay attention to the debate", "show respect to other members and officers and not make personal insults", "listen respectfully to others and address all comments through the chair" and "respect the rulings of the chairman".

He also want councillors "to make good use" of training opportunities arranged by the council via the Local Government Association and other bodies.

Members who, in the opinion of the meeting's chairman, do not behave, should be asked not to attend the next meeting of that body, he says.

And "to show high standards", members should attend meetings "smartly dressed in accordance with normal practice for business meetings".

This week, the Malvern Gazette asked how many complaints have been received, and what exactly is the conduct being complained of.

A council spokesman said because some complaints were still being dealt with, further details could not be disclosed.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:18pm Sat 21 Jun 14

3thinker says...

A better option is to get rid of MHDC.

Merge it with the other districts and county to form a Unitary.

Reduce costs and the number of councillors dramatically.

The few that are left would have less time for squabbling and could get back to what they're really there for. Looking after residents interests.
A better option is to get rid of MHDC. Merge it with the other districts and county to form a Unitary. Reduce costs and the number of councillors dramatically. The few that are left would have less time for squabbling and could get back to what they're really there for. Looking after residents interests. 3thinker
  • Score: 7

10:52am Sun 22 Jun 14

Casmal says...

So a unitary authority wouldn't squabble? A unitary authority is not driven by party politics? A unitary authority in an area as large as Worcestershire would be able to look after the interests of residents in all its different areas?

I have lived in a unitary authority, but one which was small enough for all its residents to identify with. Neither residents nor councillors nor officers had to travel many, many, miles to get to where the decisions are made. That worked reasonably well, but there was still party political squabbling and points scoring. It made no difference which party had the majority - liberal, labour or conservative. They were all as bad as each other both in power and in opposition.

The only people who really did look after their residents' interests were those who were truly independent and voted according to their residents' wishes on each individual issue, rather than blindly following the party line. (And I mean truly independent, not those who were elected as independent, then immediately aligned themselves and sat with a political party.)

Of course the other issue is that it is not just the Cllrs. who make a good council, but the officers, too. All too often Officers act as if they are the councillors, and push forward with things and manipulate the politicians. Again I have seen this happen in more than one authority, but of course, the reverse can happen as well. What is needed is a good partnership, where each knows their place and respects the other.

But back to the story in the article. The Chairman's motion is completely unnecessary, as there is already a members' Code of Conduct, so all he has to do is enforce that! A good Chairman should know the constitution and all rules covering committees, debate, etc. and conduct the meeting accordingly. I've yet to see that at MHDC. Instead the Monitoring Officer seems to jump in at every opportunity and effectively run the meeting.

Interestingly, at the council and committee meetings I have been to it has been the Conservative Councillors who have been the worst behaved and rudest. The late Cllr. Cheeseman being a good case in point. I never heard him say anything polite or respectful to or about the public present at the meeting, or about non-conservative politicians.

Basically it all comes down to the Chairman. The rules are already in place. All he needs to do is know them and enforce them with courtesy and good humour.
So a unitary authority wouldn't squabble? A unitary authority is not driven by party politics? A unitary authority in an area as large as Worcestershire would be able to look after the interests of residents in all its different areas? I have lived in a unitary authority, but one which was small enough for all its residents to identify with. Neither residents nor councillors nor officers had to travel many, many, miles to get to where the decisions are made. That worked reasonably well, but there was still party political squabbling and points scoring. It made no difference which party had the majority - liberal, labour or conservative. They were all as bad as each other both in power and in opposition. The only people who really did look after their residents' interests were those who were truly independent and voted according to their residents' wishes on each individual issue, rather than blindly following the party line. (And I mean truly independent, not those who were elected as independent, then immediately aligned themselves and sat with a political party.) Of course the other issue is that it is not just the Cllrs. who make a good council, but the officers, too. All too often Officers act as if they are the councillors, and push forward with things and manipulate the politicians. Again I have seen this happen in more than one authority, but of course, the reverse can happen as well. What is needed is a good partnership, where each knows their place and respects the other. But back to the story in the article. The Chairman's motion is completely unnecessary, as there is already a members' Code of Conduct, so all he has to do is enforce that! A good Chairman should know the constitution and all rules covering committees, debate, etc. and conduct the meeting accordingly. I've yet to see that at MHDC. Instead the Monitoring Officer seems to jump in at every opportunity and effectively run the meeting. Interestingly, at the council and committee meetings I have been to it has been the Conservative Councillors who have been the worst behaved and rudest. The late Cllr. Cheeseman being a good case in point. I never heard him say anything polite or respectful to or about the public present at the meeting, or about non-conservative politicians. Basically it all comes down to the Chairman. The rules are already in place. All he needs to do is know them and enforce them with courtesy and good humour. Casmal
  • Score: 6

2:31pm Sun 22 Jun 14

3thinker says...

You make a valid point about the possible size of a single Unitary for Worcestershire. Herefordshire is already a Unitary, but I appreciate that's witjh a smaller population. I note that other County Councils that have already adopted a Unitary structure e.g. Cheshire have addressed population size by splitting the County into two Unitaries. Leicestershire is currently looking at it and estimate a £30m saving per year. There are actually very good reasons to have an objective look at what it would mean for Worcestershire. It would certainly reduce councillors and senior management and cut out the confusion in public minds about who's responsible for what. There's also the potential for massive savings without cutting services or increasing the Council tax.
You make a valid point about the possible size of a single Unitary for Worcestershire. Herefordshire is already a Unitary, but I appreciate that's witjh a smaller population. I note that other County Councils that have already adopted a Unitary structure e.g. Cheshire have addressed population size by splitting the County into two Unitaries. Leicestershire is currently looking at it and estimate a £30m saving per year. There are actually very good reasons to have an objective look at what it would mean for Worcestershire. It would certainly reduce councillors and senior management and cut out the confusion in public minds about who's responsible for what. There's also the potential for massive savings without cutting services or increasing the Council tax. 3thinker
  • Score: 0

4:51am Mon 23 Jun 14

Rita Jelfs says...

If the highest standards of meeting conduct are not being upheld by the Chair, then they're not fit to be the Chair, are they.
If the highest standards of meeting conduct are not being upheld by the Chair, then they're not fit to be the Chair, are they. Rita Jelfs
  • Score: 6

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree