New council policy could see ‘angry and demanding’ residents snubbed
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Angry and demanding residents who complain to the Vale of Glamorgan council could soon be ignored if they become “unreasonable”.
Persistent and unreasonable demands or unacceptable behaviour towards council staff could see the complainants cut off from any contact, under a new policy.
The Unacceptable Actions by Citizens policy aims to prevent councillors and staff receiving abuse from people complaining to the council.
Council leader Neil Moore said the policy would not be a gagging order but was needed as some people who complain can become “overzealous”.
He said: “It’s not something that’s used extensively, but it is there as a tool. It’s something that we need in place to protect ourselves and our staff from any unwarranted attacks or unreasonable considerations.”
The cabinet signed off the new policy on Monday, April 11. It will first go to backbench councillors on a scrutiny committee, before getting the final sign off.
People making persistent complaints could first have their contact restricted to a single council officer, before then potentially being cut off from any contact with the council.
Fewer than five people were subject to the previous Unreasonable Complaints policy, but the problem has massively increased with social media making councillors and staff more accessible and easier to contact.
Cllr Moore added: “Sometimes people are asked to deal with just one person in the council, so there’s one point of contact, because sometimes people contact a multitude of people and therefore everybody is doing the same thing. It’s not a gagging order, it’s never been considered to be a gagging order.
“People can disagree with me as much as they want to, but they should do so reasonably and not be particularly overzealous or rude or make unjustified comments. Sometimes there’s a line that’s crossed. What’s happened with social media is that things are that much more instant and people expect a response immediately.”
Deputy leader Lis Burnett said: “The number of people this has affected is very small. I don’t want people to think that just by saying something’s wrong that they will come under this policy. This is for the very small number of people who take disproportionate and unacceptable council resources with complaints, and who are abusive.”
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