Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Annual Meeting of Copeland Borough Council

I attended the annual meeting of Copeland Borough Council today as an invited guest.

There were actually three meetings: one to deal with various items of business, including particularly a response to the Boundary commission proposals for elections to Copeland Council; one to confer the status of Honorary Alderman on two distinguished servants of the people of the borough; and the annual meeting to elect a new Chair and Deputy Chair and appoint councillors and co-opted members to committees and outside bodies.

One of the items of business was an updated code for dealing with unacceptable conduct by councillors, members of staff and members of the public which came from an all-party committee and was adopted with all party support (Conservative, Labour and Independent.) I was shocked to hear how much it has cost the council dealing with complaints over this council term. If I heard the mayor correctly, Copeland Borough Council has spent resources equivalent to £180.000 including officer time in dealing with complaints, many of which have been vexatious ones submitted over the internet by people who appear to have been using false names.

The new procedure is designed to be at least equally effective or preferable more so in dealing with real misconduct while reducing the need to waste vast resources on the need to investigate malicious or vexatious complaints, especially those from anonymous trolls.

I wish CBC every success in making this new code successful. There is a difficult balance to get right here.

Dealing with genuine complaints is an very important part of how every organisation improves its service and it is very important that attempts to limit the disruption caused by trolls should not interfere with the ability of people with a real grievance or issue to get it addressed. However the procedure should not be hijacked by malicious people submitting nonsense.

I was delighted to see Lena Hogg, the former leader of the Labour group on the council, and John Jackson, a former Conservative Mayor of Copeland, made honorary alderman. This is a rare honour in Copeland - there is a strict limit on the number of former councillors who can be given the title - and in both cases richly deserved by two people who have worked very hard for everyone in Copeland.

Congratulations also to Alistair Norwood, who finished his year as Chairman of the Council, and to Peter Connolly, who took over as the new Chairman.

No comments: