GWYNEDD Council’s standards committee has suspended Councillor Louise Hughes for one month, following her response to two emails written in Welsh with an email in German. The committee found that Cllr Hughes had breached the code of conduct for members, which states that members must show due regard for equality of opportunity for all people, show respect and consideration for others, and not conduct themselves in a way which could be seen as bringing their office into disrepute.
The complaint was referred to the committee after the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales carried out an investigation, which found that the councillor should have known that responding in German would be perceived as inappropriate. While Cllr Hughes expressed remorse and regret for her actions, she claimed that there was “no malice” intended and that she would “never knowingly offend anyone.”
The investigation also revealed that Cllr Hughes was unaware of the council’s translation services that were available to assist her with correspondence such as this. In light of this, the standards committee has recommended that Gwynedd Council provide assistance to members when they receive correspondence in a language they do not understand.
Cllr Hughes told Herald.Wales: “We all make mistakes. I made a mistake and now I’m paying the price.” While she has the right to appeal the decision to the Adjudication Panel for Wales, she has accepted her punishment and pledged to learn from this experience.
This incident highlights the importance of communication in local government and the need for members to be aware of the resources available to them. It also serves as a reminder that actions, even unintended ones, can have consequences and that public officials must always strive to uphold the highest standards of conduct.