COUNTY council members took a small step toward transparency this week by allowing the public to investigate complaints against elected officials – just to censor the discussion.
The standards committee of the Herefordshire Council met to examine a sample of complaints processed between October 1, 2018 and April 30 of this year.
During this time, there were 15 complaints against 19 city councils, and the jury examined how eleven of these complaints were dealt with.
However, the members of the panel kept secret all the details identifying those involved in the complaints prior to the discussions.
One case involved a complaint from someone allegedly being racially abused by a city councilor.
Despite this particular case, which resulted in a formal public apology from the City Council, the standardization body did not disclose its identity either in the agenda items or during the meeting.
Council member Nigel Shaw asked if this particular case should have been referred to another authority because of its potentially criminal nature.
At the beginning of the meeting, the panel's independent chair, Jake Bharier, said standards and behavior of councilors and councilors were of great public interest.
"A private review of this behavior could adversely affect the interests of the Council," he said.
"It also raises the question of whether it is possible to look at any material without identifying it.
"On the other hand, there is a risk that in the course of the discussions, we will actually identify people in ways that are inappropriate."
Coun Peter Jinman said the principle of openness is one the Council voted for last year.
"The question that arises in this particular case is always about people and their names," he said.
"In fact, if you hold any of this in an open session, the question is whether we can hold back the name while dealing with the nature of it."