COMPLAINTS against Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councillors have almost doubled over a year – although new measures being brought in may reduce further rises.

Since March the council has adopted a policy to provide early mediation to reach a resolution on complaints without the need for long and costly investigations.

It has yet to produce the evidence whether that is working.

Figures show 17 complaints in the first year of the unitary council (2019-20); 19 the following year and then a leap to 34 in 2021-22.

Complaints involving town and parish councillors in the area over the same period have remained at one, or two, a year.

The latest figures involved 29 complaints against councillors by member of the public and five where one councillor, or more, complained against another.

Social media remains the biggest source of complaints, producing 18 of the 34 cases with four for emails and two for the spoken word.

Three of the complaints are listed as ‘lack of response’ and seven as ‘other’ which the report says often refers to decisions of the council as a whole, matters arising from media articles and allegations of a clash of interests.

Of the alleged breaches of the council’s code of conduct the majority, 26, are for ‘failing to treat others with respect’, 14 for bringing the office of councillor or the council into disrespect; nine for intimidation, or attempting to intimidate; eight for causing the council to breach equality laws and five for compromising, or attempting to compromise the impartiality of those who work for the council, or who work on behalf of the authority.

Most of the cases investigated were either dismissed with no evidence of a breach found, 12; or were concluded by reaching an informal resolution. Only one case was found to be a breach of the code of conduct after an independent investigation with another case being reported to the council for further consideration.

Said the report to councillors: “Whilst, a large proportion of complaints have resulted in no breach of the code being identified or an informal resolution mediated by the monitoring officer, any complaint received is the result of a perceived dissatisfaction by the complainant and has the potential to damage the reputation of the council. Administering the complaints process is also a high resource activity and as a consequence every effort should be made to reduce complaints arising in the first instance. All councillors should be encouraged to play an active role and take responsibility for promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct.”

The council’s standards committee is expected to go into a closed-door session when it meets on July 5 to discuss two reports about a Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councillor where an investigation has found two grounds with sufficient evidence to uphold the complaint.

The committee will be asked what it wants to recommend as a result of the report.

The document is not being made available to the press or public.