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How to Complain about a Councillor's Behaviour

Find out how to make a complaint about certain types of inappropriate behaviour by elected, co-opted and independent members of Swale Borough Council or parish/town councils operating in Swale.

Please note that the Council has no power to suspend or disqualify a member or to withdraw Members' or Special Responsibility allowances.

Before you send us your complaint, you should be aware that we won't be able to keep your identity confidential from the person you are making the complaint. Details of complaints are given to a member being complained about. If you have concerns about this and would like to discuss it with someone, please contact us at monitoringofficer@swale.gov.uk.

How to make a complaint

Who you can complain about

You can complain about councillors, members and co-opted members of all of the authorities we cover. A co-opted member is a voting member of an authority or one of its committees, who was appointed to their position rather than being elected.

The authorities we cover are:

We can only consider complaints about individual councillors or members. We cannot consider complaints about the authority as a whole or about people employed by it. Find out how to comment, compliment or complaint about the council as a whole.

What you can complain about

You can complain about a member breaking any part of their authority's Code of Conduct.

This may include a complaint arising out of failure to observe the following:

Personal commitment to appropriate conduct under the Code

If none of the above applies to your complaint, it is probably not something we can deal with. To find out if another organisation can help you, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Law Centre or other advice centre.

What we cannot consider

An Act of Parliament has set out the types of behaviour that we can investigate. There are some complaints that we cannot investigate, including:

Before you complain

Before you send us your complaint, you should be aware that we are unlikely to be able to keep your identity confidential from the person about whom you are making the complaint. Details of the complaint will be given to the member about whom you have complained. If you have concerns about this and would like to discuss it with someone, please call 01795 417268 and a member of our staff will be pleased to help.

What happens to your complaint?

When we receive your complaint, we will write to you to let you know that we have received it. We will then assess your complaint. We may decide that it will not be investigated for one or more of a number of reasons. These reasons could include those listed in ‘What we cannot consider’. In addition, we may decide not to investigate your complaint because it:

If we decide not to refer your complaint for investigation, we will write to you explaining why.

If we decide to refer your complaint for investigation, we will write to you to let you know when the investigation has started and, when it is over, we will write to you to tell you the outcome.

Please note there is a presumption in favour of resolution of your complaint without formal investigation, wherever practicable.

The investigation

Will your complaint be investigated?

The Monitoring Officer will review every complaint received and, after consultation with the Independent Person, take a decision as to whether it merits formal investigation. This decision will normally be taken within 28 working days of receipt of your complaint. Where the Monitoring Officer has taken a decision, he/she will inform you of his/her decision and the reasons for that decision.

Where he/she requires additional information in order to come to a decision, he/she may come back to you for such information, and may request information from the Member against whom your complaint is directed. [Where your complaint relates to a Parish Councillor, the Monitoring Officer may also inform the Parish Council of your complaint and seek the views of the Parish Council before deciding whether the complaint merits formal investigation.]

In appropriate cases, the Monitoring Officer may seek to resolve the complaint informally, without the need for a formal investigation. Such informal resolution may involve the Member accepting that his/her conduct was unacceptable and offering an apology, or other remedial action by the authority. Where the Member or the Authority make a reasonable offer of local resolution, but you are not willing to accept that offer, the Monitoring Officer will take account of this in deciding whether the complaint merits formal investigation.

If your complaint identifies criminal conduct or breach of other regulation by any person, the Monitoring Officer has the power to call in the Police and other regulatory agencies.

Further information regarding the Investigation and Hearing Process will be forwarded to you in the event of the matter requiring formal investigation.

Who is the Independent Person?

The Independent Person is a person who has applied for the post following advertisement of a vacancy for the post, and is appointed by a positive vote from a majority of all the Members of Council.

A person cannot be “independent” if he/she -

Please remember that we can:

Please provide us with as much information as you can about your complaint to help us decide whether or not it should be investigated.

Please avoid sending us large amounts of background information that only indirectly relates to your complaint.

If your complaint is referred for investigation, you will have a further opportunity to provide the investigator with any information or documents that you consider to be relevant.

If we can be of any further help, please call us on 01795 417268.

If you have any more questions, you can contact us at:

Make a complaint

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