Councillors across the political divide in Neath Port Talbot have pledged support for “fair campaigning” ahead of council elections in Wales in May.

A Notice of Motion to back the Welsh Local Government Association’s Fair Campaign Pledge statement was approved at a meeting of Neath Port Talbot Council on Wednesday (March 16th, 2022) – the last full council meeting before the elections in May.

The Notice of Motion was jointly proposed by Neath Port Talbot Council Leader Cllr Ted Latham(Leader of the council’s Labour Group), Cllr Alun Llewelyn (Leader of the Plaid Cymru Group) and Cllr Scott Jones (Leader of the Independent Democrats Group).

The Fair Campaign Pledge stems from concerns raised by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) about the risk of increased abuse and intimidation in the run-up to the local elections.

And the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has previously reported concerns that code of conduct complaints about councillors increase significantly in the run-up to elections.

Serving councillors seeking re-election remain bound by a statutory Code of Conduct, which sets out high standards including treating others with respect and prohibiting bullying behaviour or harassment.

While serving councillors are bound by the code, other candidates are not and concerns have been previously raised that election campaigns are not always conducted “on a level playing field” as a result.

The WLGA pledge approved by Neath Port Talbot Council states that members promise “not to encourage abuse or act in a way that causes, excuses, encourages or makes it more likely for others to abuse or attack elected representatives for the difficult job we do, in either our role within the chamber, in our role outside the chamber or on social media”.

It continues: “As leaders we endeavour to treat everyone with courtesy, kindness and respect and, on behalf of our respective political groups, along with other council’s across Wales, we stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ to call for an end to abuse, intimidation and harassment of any kind.

“This is particularly relevant as we enter the key period in the run up to the local government elections in May.

“We add our voices to support and participate in the fair campaigns pledge and will aim to make use of the resources as produced by the Civility in Public Life programme which are based on positive campaigning and merit, rather than personal attacks and smears against individuals.

“In addition, we will publicly ‘call out’ any such inappropriate behaviour and take a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of any kind, and strongly encourage all elected members and candidates in the forthcoming elections to do the same.”