Report reveals the level of bullying experienced by councillors in Cardiff
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Just over a quarter of Cardiff Council members reported experiencing bullying over the last five years, according to a new report.
A Members Exit Survey report conducted by Cardiff Council revealed that a small proportion of respondents who experienced “various unacceptable behaviours” reported these incidents and that 27% of members who said they experienced bullying reported it.
The survey, which was presented to the council’s standards and ethics committee delves into the experiences of councillors during the last term (2017-2022) and the reasons why past members chose not to stand for re-election.
A number of surveys of councillors’ experiences were also carried out during the 2017-2022 term.
These revealed that the number of councillors who disclosed having experienced bullying rose from five in 2019-20 to 15 in 2021-22.
The councillors taking part in the survey who experienced other unacceptable behaviour increased from four to eight during the same periods of time.
Monitoring officer at Cardiff Council, Davina Fiore, said during the standards and ethics committee meeting: “It is difficult to know why that might be.
“It might be because when some people are leaving or not standing again or thinking that they might lose in the election, they might feel able to be more open and more willing to say what they have experienced.”
A total of 43 out of 75 council members took part in the members exit survey, according to Ms Fiore.
She added: “I think it is fair to say that all councillors are likely to experience an increase in stress and pressure in the run up to elections and so maybe there is a bit more unacceptable behaviour in that immediate run up to elections.
“It is certainly of concern that there is a large number of people identifying that they have witnessed and experienced unacceptable behaviour.
“Also of concern is the fact that a number of members haven’t reported that behaviour and there is a range of reasons given for that.
“Some people say they dealt with it by themselves, some people said they felt that they just had to put up and shut up, others said they did report it.”
Some council members have put forward solutions they would like to see adopted by the council, like removing members from meetings and handing out suspensions.
However, Ms Fiore said that dealing with the issues will not be as easy as some of these solutions might suggest.
She added: “We are doing a comprehensive induction programme. It includes code of conduct training which is mandatory, it includes equalities training which is also mandatory.
“It also includes unconscious bias training which is advisory rather than mandatory, and we were thinking that last time we did the exit survey there was a higher number of unacceptable behaviour but after we had done the induction programme, the subsequent survey showed a reduction.
“What I was recommending was that we monitor the situation – we have obviously got induction ongoing – and we run another survey in 2023 at the end of the first year and we see if those numbers have come down at all.”
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If this article was about racism, sexist or ageism I’m confident it would have many comments. Bullying is arguably a bigger problem in the workplace but doesn’t receive the coverage of other poor mental health triggers.