The status quo on oversight of councillors' behaviour isn't acceptable

We are concerned by the threats, intimidation and toxic debate that has come to characterise much of our public discourse, yet the Government is shunning an important opportunity to challenge a manifestation of it, says Claire Kober.

As The MJ reported on its front page a couple of weeks ago, the Government has rejected a recommendation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) that councils should be able to suspend councillors for up to six months and withdraw their allowance.

The rationale for the decision apparently rests on the principle of ‘free speech in local government', which according to the Government's response to CSPL was undermined by the previous Standards Board regime which, it argued, ‘policed' the free speech of councillors. In essence, the Government believes accepting the recommendation would be tantamount to reinstating a discredited regime.

Claire Kober OBE

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