Town council introduces new behaviour policy 

Portishead Folk Hall in High Street.

Portishead Folk Hall in High Street. - Credit: Archant

Portishead Town Council has adopted a new behaviour policy to satisfy its duty of care to its staff, councillors, delivery partners and other people who attend council meetings.  

Town council chairman, Paddy Sterndale, proposed the implementation of the new policy at the authority's July meeting, where it was approved unanimously. It came into force immediately. 

Talking to the Times, Cllr Sterndale said 'enabling freedom of speech and community engagement while adopting a respectful approach is vital'.

She said: “Portishead Town Council is committed to providing an accessible service, engaging with residents to ensure the whole community is at the heart of its activities.

"We believe everyone has the right to express their views robustly and ask questions about the council’s priorities, strategies, activities and service delivery. However, while most of the time these interactions are constructive, the behaviour of a very small number of individuals has become consistently disrespectful.

"Finding an acceptable balance; enabling freedom of speech and community engagement while adopting a respectful approach is vital. This is why we have introduced the behaviour policy, it sets out clear guidelines so that everyone knows what is acceptable and what is not. ” 

Portishead Town Council has set out four steps for dealing with unacceptable behaviour. It said that warnings will be given to anyone deemed behaving in a disrespectful, unacceptable way and the person will be given the opportunity to improve their behaviour.

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However, the council adds that if this behaviour continues, their access to the town council will be restricted and they will be asked not to contact councillors or staff for a period of time, which will be subject to review.  

Town clerk, Julia Stuckey, added: “The policy is designed to expand and enhance, rather than replace other policies and standing orders including the following: Code of conduct for members; complaints, social media and filming of council and committee meetings policies; member and officer protocol; staff protection vexatious complaints policy; committees’ terms of reference; and standing orders.

"It satisfies the council’s duty of care to its employees, councillors, delivery partners and others who attend council meetings.”