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Complaining about a councillor

​An allegation of misconduct or a complaint about a councillor must be submitted in writing.

Any written complaint about a councillor, a co-optee of South Gloucestershire Council or a parish/town councillor should be sent to:

South Gloucestershire Council
Chief Executive & Corporate Resources Department
The Monitoring Officer
PO Box 1953
Bristol
BS37 0DB

Please complete the complaint form and provide relevant information to substantiate the complaint allegation(s). The complaint form can be obtained from the monitoring officer at the above address, by phoning us or by downloading the form. This guidance is intended to help you make your complaint.

The Standards Sub-Committee

The standards sub-committee is made up of three members of the regulatory committee. The sub-committee is supported by three independent persons appointed by the council. The sub-committee is scheduled to meet approximately once a month and the meetings are open to the public, unless there is a matter on the agenda which requires a closed session to be held. If the session is closed, the public and the press are excluded from the meeting for that agenda item.

The articles of the committee, which outlines what the sub-committee can do, are found in the Council’s Constitution – Terms of Reference for the Regulatory Committee.

Complaints dealt with by a standards sub-committee

The standards sub-committee can only deal with complaints about the behaviour of a council member, co-optee or member of its town and parish councils. It will not deal with complaints about things that are not covered by the Members Code of Conduct. If you make a complaint to the standards committee, it must be in writing.

The standards committee will not look at complaints that are about:

  • people employed by the council or authority
  • incidents that happened before a member was elected or chosen to serve
  • incidents that happened either before the authority adopted the Code of Conduct or before 5 May 2002, whichever is the earlier
  • the way an authority conducts or records its meetings
  • the way an authority has or has not done something. This might be a matter for the Local Government Ombudsman if the authority has not dealt with the matter properly and it has not been resolved locally
  • decisions of the authority or one of the services it provides. In this case, you should use the council’s own complaints procedure

What happens to your complaint

The monitoring officer will normally acknowledge receipt of a complaint within five working days of receiving the complaint. Once you have made a complaint, you will be told, in writing, what will happen to it. In brief, providing the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the standards sub-committee, it will notify the member complained about, provide them with a copy of the complaint and ask for their comments. A standards sub-committee will be set up.

The sub-committee will decide whether there is an apparent breach of the code of conduct and, if so, whether the matter warrants investigation and hearing or other action.

The standards sub-committee can decide to:

  • investigate your complaint
  • take some other action
  • send it to another authority, if the member belongs to that authority, or one of the town or parish councils that come under the other authority
  • take no further action

If the standards sub-committee determines that there is no breach of the code of conduct, this decision is final and there is no appeal process for the complainant.

If the standards sub-committee refers the matter for investigation, then following the completion of an investigation, a hearing will be set up at which the question of whether there has been a breach of the code of conduct will be decide. The hearing panel will decide what penalty, if any, is to be imposed.

The hearing panel is made up of at least three members of the regulatory committee, none of whom were involved in the original assessment of the complaint. The panel is normally made up on one councillor from each political party.

Other action

Other action is usually some form of conflict resolution, mediation or training. The standards sub-committee can decide that some other form of action is more likely to resolve the situation more effectively than an investigation and possible sanction.

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