TWENTY complaints about alleged code of conduct breaches have been made against authorities in Gwent in the last five years.

Only two of the complaints made to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales resulted in suspensions, with four matters resolved without going before the Adjudication Panel.

The watchdog found there was no evidence of breaches in the remaining cases, which date back to 2013.

Complaints have been made against councillors in each of the five main regional local authorities – Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.

In March 2013, a Monmouthshire councillor was suspended for four months after violating the promotion of equality and respect within the code of conduct.

The complaining council officer alleged that the councillor disclosed information about their private life to other councillors and a member of the public.

A report says the councillor may have also taken part in discussions involving a local attraction where his wife worked, and in which he therefore had a personal and prejudicial interest.

The ombudsman referred the matter to the council’s standards committee, who decided to suspend the councillor.

The only other suspension relates to a member of Magor and Undy Community Council, who failed to declare an interest or leave a meeting in April 2014 in which the council clerk’s remuneration package was being discussed.

The councillor and the clerk were in a relationship and married later in the year. A tribunal found that the councillor had breached the code of conduct and was suspended for three months.

Two separate allegations of councillors using offensive language were also investigated but neither were found to have breached the code of conduct.

A member of Blaenau Gwent council’s cabinet stepped down after failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest in discussions of the purchase of property owned by his son.

The council’s chief executive alleged that the councillor “improperly” used his position to put pressure on officers to approve the sale.

A report says: “[The ombudsman] found that the accused member had sought to obtain advice on his position and on any declaration of interest he should make.”

“When interviewed, the member accepted that he had a personal and prejudicial interest in the matter, and that he should have declared the interest.”

Following his admission and having stepped down as cabinet member for economic strategy and development, the ombudsman found that no further action was needed.

Nick Bennett, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said: “My office uses a public interest test to promote ‘common sense for the common good’ and ensure we can focus on the most serious of code of conduct complaints rather than those of a vexatious nature.

“Where there are abuses of power or other serious breaches of the code it is important my office has the power to protect the citizen’s interests.

“These cases will be referred to the Adjudication Panel for Wales although I am pleased only a small number of referrals are made each year.”