'Inappropriate comments' being made by St Helens councillors on social media

Ms Jan Bakewell, the councils monitoring officer, revealed she has received 10 complaints since January.
Ms Jan Bakewell, the councils monitoring officer, revealed she has received 10 complaints since January.
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The conduct of councillors on social media continues to be a “source of frustration”, St Helens Council’s monitoring officer has said.


Jan Bakewell provided an update on code of conduct complaints to the council’s standards committee on Monday.

Ms Bakewell, the council’s monitoring officer, revealed she has received 10 complaints since January.

She said the vast majority of complaints relate to social media conduct.

Ms Bakewell accused members of showing “basic disrespect” and making “inappropriate comments” – sometimes with no offence intended.

“The vast majority relate to – and it’s been this way for a while now – social media comments,” Ms Bakewell said.

“They continue to be a source of frustration both for members of the public and fellow members.

“So, complaints against other members, by members in relation to what I would say, basic disrespect and inappropriate comments.

“Sometimes there was no offence intended but it was the perception by the receiver of the comment that was inappropriate.

“And I spend my time continuing to reiterate obligations to members in terms of their code of conduct obligations under the ICT protocols.”

Out of the 10 complaints made since January, four were dealt with by means of an alternative resolution.

Ms Bakewell said two complaints did not progress to the investigation stage because in her view, the complaints did not relate to conduct that was while acting in the capacity of a councillor.

Three complaints were not investigated beyond the initial consideration stage. Ms Bakewell added that at that stage it was deemed that there was no apparent breach of the code of conduct.

One complaint is current still live.

In addition to complaints regarding the use of social media, Ms Bakewell said some complaints related to comments made by councillors in emails about other members, while others were about a councillor’s conduct in a meeting.

Ms Bakewell said around half were complaints from elected members while the rest were from members of the public.