INAPPROPRIATE comments to female staff, bullying behaviour and appearing to be inebriated.

Those were some of the allegations made about Bournemouth councillors behaving badly in 28 complaints dealt with behind closed doors in the past five years, the Daily Echo can reveal.

The information has prompted some councillors to complain of declining standards of behaviour and to demand a clean-up.

The list was revealed following a request by the Daily Echo under the Freedom of Information Act. But there is one crucial detail missing – the names of the councillors in question.

Chief executive Pam Donnellan said publishing names “raises potential confidentiality and privacy issues of a complex nature” and would only be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Daily Echo’s request followed the revelation that council leader Stephen MacLoughlin was the subject of an investigation in January after pornographic images were found on his council laptop.

Councillors were furious the investigation was conducted in private by the chief executive and monitoring officer.

Asked if the latest information suggested some councillors were behaving badly, Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Cllr Claire Smith, said yesterday: “Very. And like the TV sitcom it’s time to axe it now.”

Cllr Smith said some of the newer councillors had “a misunderstanding” about the limitations to their power and some were guilty of “sheer arrogance”.

She added: “I know there are a lot of people in the council now who are good councillors and they do care and a lot are saying ‘I don’t know if I will stand again’.”

“The only thing that keeps them going is they work for the residents.”

Veteran independent councillor, Ron Whittaker, said it was difficult to tell whether many of the complaints were legitimate. But he believes standards have worsened over the past 10 years and there are meetings almost weekly to look into complaints.

“I have never known of individual councillors complaining about individual councillors as much. It’s about back-stabbing of particular parties here. It’s pathetic,” he said.

But the council’s Conservative deputy leader, Cllr John Beesley, said the current complaint structures work.

He added: “It’s very easy to make an allegation against anybody, quite often out of political spite. Whether there is any evidence to support it or truth in it is another matter.”

Five of the 28 allegations concern former councillors, while the remaining 23 were about current councillors.

In one instance, a councillor was taped apparently referring to his influential position during a private phone call.

The monitoring officer listened to the recording and the issue was left with the political group leader to discuss with the councillor concerned.

Another councillor had to apologise after making negative comments about an officer in public.

Another member had their laptop taken away after twice allowing a family member to use it.

And another was accused of an aggressive attitude to a business manager and referring to powers that could be used.

Bournemouth council said it was “usual practice” in local government for senior officers to try and resolve concerns relating to members as they see fit.

This may lead to a referral to the standards committee but this is not a legal requirement.

* For the full list of all 28 investigations, see today's Daily Echo