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Complaints about Wigan councillors falls

Coun Charles Rigby
Coun Charles Rigby

The number of complaints lodged against Wigan’s councillors has fallen, according to a new report.

The council merged its standards committee with its audit counterpart last year because of a marked improvement in behaviour since 2015.

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In the three years prior to that, the town hall dealt with 61 complaints, costing taxpayers thousands of pounds with many cases requiring a hearing.

In recent years the number of complaints has dropped to single figures, with six registered in 2017/18 compared with eight the previous year and seven in 2015/16.

Although two cases may require hearings later this year.

A report tabled for next week’s meeting of the merged audit, governance and standards committee says that a new social media policy and councillors being offered training opportunities on the role of being an elected representative have contributed to the continued improvement.

Committee chairman Coun Charles Rigby states in the report: “Since June 2016, the council has worked hard to avoid hearings by attempting to resolve complaints through local resolution.

“This has had the benefit of reducing resources but also allows for more practical, speedier resolutions.

“This year has been much quieter for the standards committee with fewer code of conduct complaints to consider.

“No hearings have been held.

“It is part of our goal to ensure that we are at the forefront of higher standards in everything that we do and maintain our part of the deal.”

According to figures contained in the report, 2013/14 was the council’s worst in recent years, with 27 complaints lodged.

Of the six complaints last year, three were made by members of the public.

One was withdrawn, two were deemed to have been no breach of the code of conduct as councillors were not acting in an official capacity at the time.

One was settled via “informal resolution” and two have been listed for potential hearings this year.