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Councillors on Gillingham Town Council have signed up for a pledge on showing respect and civility, making it one of the first authorities in Dorset to do so.

Town clerk Julie Hawkins said the initiative came from bodies representing councils and town clerks across the country who ‘believe now is the time to put civility and respect at the top of the agenda and start a culture change for the local council sector’.

In a report for town councillors Ms Hawkins said that civility meant politeness and courtesy in behaviour, speech, and in the written word.

‘Gillingham Town Council prides itself in being a friendly, kind and caring council. Employees and members of Gillingham Town Council listen and pay attention to others, they have consideration for other people’s feelings, they follow protocols and rules, show appreciation and are generally kind and caring individuals who genuinely want to make a difference to the town,’ she wrote.

‘By signing up to the civility and respect pledge Gillingham Town Council will be demonstrating that the council is committed to treating councillors, clerks, employees, members of the public, representatives of partner organisations, and volunteers, with civility and respect in their role.’

At a meeting of the full council on Monday evening the Civility in Public Life Pledge was adopted unanimously.

Mayor Sharon Cullingford said: ‘It’s important that we do this.’

Having adopted the pledge Gillingham has signed up to the following:

• The Council has agreed that it will treat all councillors, clerk and all employees, members of the public, representatives of partner organisations, and volunteers, with civility and respect in their role.
• The Council has committed to training councillors and staff.
• The Council has signed up to Code of Conduct for councillors.
• The Council has good governance arrangements in place including, staff contracts, and a dignity at work policy (Please see agenda item no. 18f).
• The Council will commit to seeking professional help in the early stages should civility and respect issues arise.
• The Council will commit to calling out bullying and harassment when if and when it happens.
• The Council will continue to learn from best practice in the sector and aspire to being a role model/champion council e.g., via the Local Council Award Scheme.

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