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Cheshire West & Chester Council: 'Bullying' ban to return

A ban on councillors disrespecting or bullying anybody is to be reinstated.

The new Labour leadership on Cheshire West & Chester Council is making the move after the rules were deleted by the former Conservative administration.

Council leader Samantha Dixon said the authority should "show respect to residents, each other and staff".

But the Conservative opposition has called it a "hollow gesture" and warned that the regulations could "inhibit vigorous political debate".

The rules were enshrined in the authority's code of conduct for councillors until March 2015 but have not been in force since.

The clause stated councillors had to "treat others with respect", could not "do anything which may cause your authority to any breach equality laws" and must not "bully any person".


Cheshire West & Chester Council Member Code of Conduct

(a) You must treat others with respect. You should engage with colleagues and staff in a manner that underpins mutual respect, essential to good local government

(b) You must not do anything which may cause your authority to breach any equality laws

(c) You must not compromise or attempt to compromise the impartiality of anyone who works for, or on behalf of, the authority

(d) You must not bully any person, including other councillors, officers of the authority or members of the public


The former Conservative administration at Cheshire West & Chester Council claimed the rules were "difficult to measure" and insisted they had been misused by opposition councillors.

'Swearing'

The leader of the Tory opposition on the authority, Mike Jones, was investigated under the respect clause in 2012 after he was allegedly overheard swearing about members of the public.

At the time the council said he "regretted" the expression used.

A subsequent investigation originally found the Code of Conduct had been breached because Mr Jones "did not treat persons present with respect".

But no action was taken after it concluded he was not acting in an official capacity when the comments were made.

Common sense

Labour took control of Cheshire West & Chester Council at this year's elections.

Samantha Dixon, pledging to reinstate the respect clause, told BBC Radio Merseyside: "When you conduct yourself in public life as an elected representative you should show respect to other people - it's really important.

"I believe robust challenge always has a place in politics, there are different ways of doing it though."

Now opposition leader Mr Jones said: "This is about plain common sense, and there's no need to impose rules on people that can be used as a political weapon."

He said the rule change "will waste council resources unnecessarily for one change in the constitution that's not required."

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