Valley councillors prepare to overturn controversial change in complaints procedure

There is a live complaint against the council leader, Coun. Ken Hind
There is a live complaint against the council leader, Coun. Ken Hind

Councillors are set to meet this evening to discuss a change in the procedure involved in investigating complaints against its own councillors.

It follows decisions made at a special meeting of Ribble Valley Borough Council's Accounts and Audit Committee meeting on November 21st, where Conservative members approved the changes.

However, the move, which prompted a backlash from opposition councillors and has since seen 16 councillors agree to overturn the decision at tonight's Full Council Meeting, follows a live complaint against the leader of the council, Coun. Ken Hind.

The Localism Act of 2011 changed the way councils dealt with complaints about councillors’ conduct. It placed the onus on local authorities to put in place arrangements for dealing with complaints against councillors under a local code of conduct. Since RVBC adopted the new arrangements, there have been five complaints and, whilst none have got to the hearing stage, they have all been dealt with using the council’s arrangements established under The Localism Act of 2011.

At last month's meeting, Tory councillor, Jan Alcock, recommended the council’s complaint’s procedure be altered immediately. She said: “I recommend maintaining the high standards of conduct for all council members, as is preserving the council’s reputation for impartiality and fairness; appoint a monitoring officer from another local authority to review the complaint; appoint three Conservative councillors from other authorities to adjudicate on this complaint; request independent person, Ian Taylor to give his advice and following the conclusion, conduct a review and revision of the complaints procedure against councillors.

The decision was slammed by Liberal Democrat councillor Allan Knox and Terry Hill, leader of the breakaway Democratic Conservative Party,

The duo are among the 16 councillors to "call-in" the decision.

The council's "call-in" procedure ensures that the Emergency Committee has power to override the suspension of implementation of the council's decision arising from the operation of the call in procedure.