THERE has been a “significant rise” in complaints made against councillors in West Berkshire, partly due to local elections last year.

Nine complaints were made against councillors at West Berkshire Council over the last year, compared to just one the year before.

Sarah Clarke, the council’s head of legal, said this could be because many councillors were first elected last May and they possibly need more training.

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In a report to the governance and ethics committee, which is due to meet on April 27, Ms Clarke said: “There has been a significant rise in the number of complaints against district councillors, which is significantly higher than it has been for the past four years.

“This is in my opinion, reflective of the large cohort of new members that were elected to the council following the local elections which took place in May 2019.

“This view appears to be supported by the fact that there was a similar spike in complaints against district councillors during 2015–16, when local elections also took place.”

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While councillors faced a “fairly intensive induction”, the increase in complaints shows a need for “more tailored support” for those newly elected, Ms Clarke said. Training for councillors on expected conduct was due to be held on March 25, but will be rescheduled as early as possible.

There were five complaints made against district councillors between July and September last year, and three between October and December. Between January and March this year, there were four complaints made about parish councillors, and one about a district councillor.

Most complaints were either withdrawn or an informal resolution was found.

It is unclear what the complaints are about and who they are made against. The council refused to answer a recent freedom of information request asking for these details, citing data protection laws.

Meanwhile there have been fewer complaints made against parish and town councillors, which Ms Clarke said “is to be welcomed”. Three of the five of the complaints against town and parish councillors were about the same incident, she added.

Elsewhere, ethical standards across the district “remain good”, with councillors declaring a low number of gifts and hospitality offered to then. Ms Clarke said however, that the number of gifts declared by council staff “varies considerably” for each department.