Councillors in Moray have been told to behave amid complaints from a senior officer he is spending an “increased amount” of time sorting out squabbles between them.
Monitoring officer Alasdair McEachan has warned of a rising number of situations involving elected members in a report due to be presented on Wednesday.
The official, who is the council’s head of governance, has categorised the complaints as “councillors showing a lack of respect for each other”, “councillor showing a lack of respect for officers”, “language used on social media” and “inappropriate use of council facilities”.
In the report, Mr McEachan explained he would continue to address matters requiring his input but called on group leaders to try and resolve issues without him.
He added that he is intending to run a training session about the code of conduct for councillors in October.
The comments from Mr McEachan come just days after a critical Accounts Commission report which warned services in Moray have “declined significantly” over the last five years.
Former council leader George Alexander, leader of the Councillors Open Group, which comprises four independent members, said: “Since the election in 2017, I have not been impressed with the attitude of some councillors. There has been some pretty petty behaviour going on.
“I think some need to keep in mind what they have been elected to do.”
Council leader and the co-leader of the SNP group Graham Leadbitter said: “Robust debate and challenge of different political perspectives is part of politics and people are entitled to share their feelings and opinions on issues but that should not become personal and where there are issues councillors should try and resolve them amicably.
“How we behave in public life is extremely important and I believe the people in Moray expect us to be focussed on the issues at hand and not taking up valuable time of senior council officers with avoidable complaints.
“As an administration we are focussed on the day job and I hope going forward that we can have more settled and constructive relationships.”
Tim Eagle, Conservative group leader, said: “It’s absolutely right that councillors and group leaders should be working to resolve issues as they arise without the involvement of officers, but I except on some occasions there are procedural issues which require some guidance from the monitoring officer.
“Sometimes when we want the best for communities passions can run high and with finances as tight as they are it is probably inevitable that tensions will arise.”
Derek Ross, co-leader of the Moray Alliance Group added: “This is the monitoring officer’s job. I do think there’s inappropriate use of social media though. I also think people need to think before they use it.”