Concerns raised over councillors’ behaviour during meeting

People watching the Moray Council meeting witnessed elected members sniping and arguing with each other.

Concerns raised over councillors’ behaviour during meeting LDRS

A bad-tempered meeting has caused members of the public to raise concerns with councillors about their behaviour.

People watching the Moray Council meeting via a video link last Wednesday witnessed elected members sniping and arguing with each other, before independent councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, Derek Ross, claimed he was being bullied.

Around 20 different comments are known to have been made to several councillors.

Before matters got under way at the reconvened meeting of the full council on Monday, council leader Graham Leadbitter told those attending concerns had been raised over some of their behaviours.

He said: “As councillors we all have a responsibility to do the best we can to support effective debate and display conduct that gives the public confidence in the council.

“Since last week’s meeting, I am aware of other councillors being contacted by members of the public who had been watching the meeting on webcast, reaffirming that some conduct could be viewed as unreasonable.

“As council leader it would be remiss of me not to bring this up considering these approaches have been made.”

Cllr Leadbitter added he was not focusing on any particular incident, but councillors should consider how their actions and words are seen by others.

He said: “The fact that members of the public took time to make comment on what they viewed as unreasonable behaviour does not reflect well on individual councillors or on the council as a whole, and I hope that we can move forward in our debates with a calmer and more reasoned approach without diminishing the strength of our arguments on the proposals in front of us and the scrutiny that we are all tasked with providing.”

During the meeting the head of governance, strategy and performance, Alasdair McEachan, put forward his annual report on his role as monitoring officer, responsible for maintaining sound decision-making, promoting the councillors’ code of conduct and highlighting any breaches or injustice.

Mr McEachan said he had spent a “significant amount of time” dealing with disputes between councillors.

The main areas of contention include councillors showing a lack of respect for each other, relationships between councillors and officers, and language used on social media.

By local democracy reporter Hazel Lawson