Flintshire councillors to be consulted on out of ward restrictions

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Staff reporter

RESTRICTIONS could be introduced to limit the involvement of councillors in matters outside their own ward.

Members of Flintshire County Council’s constitution committee debated a motion for guidelines to be developed for situations where a member of the council is approached to provide assistance in another ward, where their involvement does also not fall under any council position they may hold.

The motion, referred from full council earlier this month, called for a ward member to be informed of any such approach and for them to be given priority in dealing with the matter.

All members of the council are to now be consulted on the proposals before any final decision is made.

Cllr Chris Bithell told last Thursday’s meeting he supported the recommendation to help act against “meddlesome individuals” who get involved in issues outside their own ward.

He added: “I believed such a protocol already existed and many of us applied it anyway out of decency. We have all had experiences of people interfering.
It has created all kinds of problems.”

Peter Evans, Flintshire’s democracy and governance manager, said in response that a similar protocol currently exists for planning matters but does not cover other council issues.

Cllr David Barratt said any changes to the regulations should not work against constituents and ward members.

He told the meeting: “We have to be very careful when we are approached. The public need to feel they are not being pushed about.”

Cllr Quentin Dodd voiced his opposition to the proposals, believing councillors have been elected for their stance on issues that may reach beyond their ward and these could be compromised if changes were made.

He said: “We should have the same rights to take up issues to campaign on as Joe Bloggs in the street and personally I do not see the need to make any changes.”

Cllr Aaron Shotton backed Cllr Dodd’s arguments, saying the authority would need to make sure changes didn’t “curtail opportunities for debate and campaigning”.

Saltney Mold Junction Cllr Klaus Armstrong-Braun, who is not a member of the committee but attended the meeting, believes the motion was tabled following complaints about his involvement in other wards.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “I will ignore this if it comes in and I do not believe they would be able to legally take sanctions against me anyway.

“There have been times when I have been approached by people outside my ward because their own councillor will not do anything and I have been thanked by the residents for it.”

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