1st August 2021

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THE outcomes of complaints about a county councillor and town councillor in Carmarthenshire have been noted in a council meeting.

Members of Carmarthenshire’s standards committee were presented with the results of 13 investigations carried out in 2020 by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett.

These investigations covered county and town councillors across the country.

One of them was an allegation that a Carmarthenshire councillor had failed to treat members of staff at the council with respect and consideration, had breached confidentiality, and had brought the office of councillor into disrepute in relation to two incidents which occurred during the selection process for the council’s chief executive in 2019.

The allegation was that a councillor had deliberately informed the unsuccessful candidate for the post that they had not been successful – thereby circumventing human resources procedures – and had ignored a clear instruction that councillors should not publicise the identity of the successful candidate, who was Wendy Walters, for 30 minutes.

The ombudsman said the evidence suggested that the un-named councillor had accidentally informed the unsuccessful candidate and had not intended to circumvent procedures. The report said the councillor had shown remorse and had apologised – and no code of conduct breach was found.

But the ombudsman determined there was evidence that the councillor had ignored a clear instruction not to publicise the identity of the successful candidate, and that this may have amounted to a breach of the code.

No referral was deemed necessary to the standards committee, and no further action was taken.

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The ombudsman also looked into an allegation last year that a Pembrey and Burry Port town councillor did not show respect and consideration for others, used “bullying behaviour”, and behaved in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the council into disrepute.

The un-named councillor, said the report, said he felt his actions to have been justified and offered an apology if his “assertiveness had been perceived differently by the complainant”.

The report added: “The ombudsman considered the member’s response and his offer of an apology to be sufficient to resolve the complaint.”

No further action was taken.

The standards committee noted the ombudsman’s report with little discussion.

Lay member Julie James said she wanted assurance that the two councils which appeared in the report responded to training opportunities.

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