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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Mid and East Antrim ‘top of the league’ for complaints against councillors

Mid and East Antrim Council chamber.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council had the highest number of complaints against councillors, according to the latest report from the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.

The Commissioner received 17 written complaints about councillors in the borough during 2021/22.

The next highest number of written complaints was six which have been received about elected representatives in Antrim and Newtownabbey and six in Fermanagh and Omagh.

In Mid and East Antrim, there were six in 2020/21 and four in Antrim and Newtownabbey.

Overall, the Commissioner’s investigations team received 42 complaints that councillors in Northern Ireland had breached the Code during 2021/22. Two resulted in disqualification, one resulted in suspension or partial suspension and one resulted in censure. Forty-eight complaints were received in 2020/21.

During 2021/22, 29 complaints were made about councillors’ behaviour towards other people. The second largest area of complaint related to the obligations of a councillor.

On Monday evening, Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Elected Member Continuous Professional Development Policy was approved by councillors.

A report to the council said:

“The Member Development Charter Plus  accreditation aims to improve councillor performance and help achieve council objectives by responding to corporate and strategic priorities, ensuring that councillors are supported to carry out their community leadership role in a complex and changing environment.”

Speaking at the council meeting at Mossley Mill, Antrim SDLP Councillor Roisin Lynch said that it would help to ensure councillors “reach their full potential and be able to deliver for our residents”.

Glengormley DUP Cllr Paula Bradley said: “This council should really be applauded for this. We can never get enough training to be qualified enough to do the job we do.

“It is something we should be very proud of. I would encourage anybody to grasp the opportunity to train further.”

Antrim Ulster Unionist Cllr Jim Montgomery described it as “an excellent initiative”.

“I strongly recommend councillors make use of it. It covers a wide variety of training,” he added.

Commenting on the Local Government Commissioner for Standards annual report 2021/22, which was published last month, Commissioner Margaret Kelly said:

“Principles and standards are particularly important where public money is being spent. Members of the public rightly expect decision-makers in public life to use public money wisely and to be truthful about what they are doing.

“Following a set of standards also helps to ensure that public debate does not fall below an acceptable level.

“The Guidance to the Code of Conduct issued by my Office also states that councillors are expected to give other councillors, council officers and members of the public the same respect, courtesy and consideration that theyshow to people when they are not acting in the role of councillor.”


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