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Complaints about Councillors

Somerset West and Taunton Council has 59 Councillors (Members) who are required to comply with the Council’s Members Code of Conduct. This ensures high standards of conduct in the way they carry out their duties.

If you wish to complain about a Councillor, the first thing you need to ensure is that the behaviour you wish to complain about is in breach of the Code.

Each Town and Parish Council is responsible for deciding what its own Code of Conduct should contain so its provisions may differ from our own. Please contact the relevant Town or Parish Council to get a copy of their Code to see if the behaviour you wish to complain about is covered. If it is not, then we cannot deal with the complaint.

What is classed as a complaint?

Your complaint must:

  • Be about a Somerset West and Taunton Councillor, or a Councillor of a Town or Parish Council in the Somerset West and Taunton Area
  • Be that the councillor(s) has, or may have, breached the relevant Council’s Code of Conduct
  • Be about conduct that occurred while the councillor(s) complained about were in office. Conduct of an individual before they were elected, co-opted or appointed to the authority, or after they have resigned or otherwise ceased to be a councillor, cannot be considered
  • Be that the alleged breach must have occurred when the councillor was acting in their “official capacity”. What a councillor does in their private life is not a matter for the Code of Conduct. A councillor is entitled to a private life and what a councillor does in their private life is not a matter for the Code of Conduct and not something which can be dealt with under this process

What is not classed as a complaint?

Complaints about dissatisfaction with a decision or action of the authority or one of its committees, a service provided by the authority or the authority’s procedures or decision making do not fall within the jurisdiction of a Code of Conduct complaint. These complaints should be pursued through the relevant authority’s own internal complaints procedure.

Complaints about the actions of people employed by the authority e.g. the Clerk of a Town or Parish Council, also do not fall within the jurisdiction of a Code of Conduct complaint. Again, these complaints should be pursued through the relevant authority’s own internal complaints procedure.

If you are not sure whether or not your complaint falls within these categories, please contact the Monitoring Officer for an informal discussion.

Please note that trivial, frivolous, vexatious and politically motivated tit-for-tat complaints are likely to be rejected. The Monitoring Officer (or her deputy) or the Standards Committee (as appropriate) will make the decision about what action, if any, to take on your complaint.

Making a complaint

If you wish to make a complaint, please complete the Complaints Form and email to monitoringofficer@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk or write to:

The Monitoring Officer
Somerset West and Taunton Council
Deane House
Belvedere Road
Taunton
Somerset TA1 1HE

Complaints must be submitted in writing. This includes fax and electronic submissions.

In line with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 2000, we can make reasonable adjustments to assist you if you have a disability that prevents you from making your complaint in writing. We can also help if English is not your first language. Please telephone 0300 304 8000.

If a complaint is older than 6 months at the time of the receipt by the Monitoring Officer, it will only be considered in exceptional circumstances and if the Monitoring Officer considers that it is in the public interest to investigate the matter.

How to fill in the form

It is very important that you complete the form fully giving as much detail as possible as insufficient information may result in the complaint not progressing.

In terms of the details of your complaint:

Please explain what the councillor has done that you believe breaches the Code of Conduct and try to link to the relevant sections of the Code wherever possible.

If you are complaining about more than one councillor, you should clearly explain what each individual person has done (with dates / witnesses) that you believe breaches the Code of Conduct.

It is important that you provide all the information you wish to have taken into account by the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Independent Person when a decision is made whether to take any action on your complaint. For example:

  • You should be specific, wherever possible, about exactly what you are alleging the councillor said or did. For instance, instead of writing that the councillor insulted you, you should state what it was they said
  • You should provide the dates of the alleged incidents wherever possible. If you cannot provide exact dates, it is important to give a general timeframe
  • You should confirm whether there are any witnesses to the alleged conduct and provide their names and contact details of possible
  • You should provide any relevant background information or other relevant documentary evidence to support your allegation(s). Evidence could include email exchanges, witness accounts or recordings

Complaints Process

Once your complaint has been received it will be considered following the process for dealing with complaints about Councillors.