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Councillor accused of code of conduct breach for acquiring sandbags during Storm Babet

28 May 2024 2 minute read
Photo JaneHYork

Liam Randall, local democracy reporter

A councillor has been accused of abusing his power to get sandbags for his family during flooding when others could not access them.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales is currently investigating the alleged code of conduct breach by an unnamed member of Flintshire Council during Storm Babet last autumn.

Widespread flooding hit the county after heavy rainfall on October 27, 2023, causing damage to homes, roads and drainage systems.

The local authority was criticised for its response to the flooding by some residents, who said they were left without sandbags despite requesting them.

The council said at the time that more than 1,650 sandbags were delivered to those in need, with two of the worst affected areas being Broughton and Sandycroft.

Standards committee

Details of the allegation against the councillor were revealed in a report going to members of the authority’s standards committee next week.

Commenting on two complaints about the councillor’s behaviour, the council’s chief monitoring officer Gareth Owens said: “(The complaints) both relate to the same incident and the same councillor who is both a county and a town councillor.

“These are being investigated and so cannot be discussed.”

The report shows that 16 complaints have been received about the behaviour of elected members in the county since January.

In eleven cases, the ombudsman decided no further action was required, while five remain under investigation.

A total of nine complaints were made in relation to the same issue, where several community councillors were alleged to have acted improperly during a meeting held in November last year.

However, the ombudsman decided not to investigate, citing a lack of evidence.

Nine complaints

Mr Owens said: “There are a series of nine complaints relating to the same incident. Each is slightly different to reflect the different roles played by the various accused members.

“None were taken forward because the complaint is not particularly precise about what was said and, where it is, the complainant(s) are objecting to a comment that is itself not very precise.

“This highlights that the ombudsman’s office will take a forensic approach when assessing whether to pass a complaint for investigation.”

The report will be discussed by standards committee members when they meet on Monday (June 3, 2024).

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