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NALC publishes information aimed at assisting parish and town councils handle poor councillor conduct

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has published information illustrating the impact of poor councillor conduct and how parish and town councils can resolve conflicts at various stages of complexity.

The membership organisation, which represents the interests of parish and town councils, has created a sliding scale of progressively worsening behaviours that it has labelled the "civility and respect continuum", which shows the impacts on councils, members, and officers in cases of poor conduct.

The diagram categorises impacts beginning at "stable" (no impact) then "minor impact", "moderate impact", "major impact", and finally "critical impact".

"Councils that have up to date policies and procedures and well-trained councillors and employees, can often manage and mediate issues with or without advice and support from county associations and/or monitoring officers," NALC said.

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"Where councils become overwhelmed, or fail to draw upon the resources available, matters can escalate and come under significant strain and pressure. In these situations the solutions are often beyond the existing support offered and invariably best resolved by third parties; a costly and time-consuming challenge."

It added: "Early intervention to head off chronic issues is a far more effective mechanism to handle poor behaviour."

The diagram has been published as part of a "Civility and Respect" project that NALC has been pursuing. The project includes a number of initiatives, including a set of training packages aimed at councillors, clerks and employees who are experiencing difficulties with bullying and harassment.

The courses teach emotional intelligence, leadership in challenging situations, and how to deal with negative social media engagement, amongst other skills.

Its announcement also included its reaction to the Government's response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life Review and recommendations on local government ethical standards. NALC and SLCC said they were disappointed in the response and that it "fails to properly address the recommendations".

Cllr Keith Stevens, NALC chair, said: "I am bitterly disappointed by the Government's light touch, totally inadequate response to the CSPL report on local government ethical standards. It will do nothing to help stamp out poor behaviour in councils at all levels where it exists, and I would strongly urge ministers to have a rethink."

NALC also announced that it is working on ways to strengthen governance to minimise opportunities for bullying and harassment, which will be revealed in the Summer and Autumn.

The update including the diagram can be read here.

Adam Carey

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