COUNCILLORS have been advised to avoid social media after it emerged that four out of the last 13 complaints about their behaviour related to its use.

Veteran Blackburn with Darwen councillor Tony Humphrys issued the warning when he chaired the borough’s standards committee on Wednesday night.

And he used the case of the authority’s former deputy leader Andy Kay to highlight the dangers.

Cllr Kay has to stand down from the council after complaints about a 2014 Facebook post which linked to a Guardian article headlined ‘Gaza’s only power plant destroyed in Israel’s most intense airstrike yet’.

Cllr Kay commented on the post at the time: ‘The Jewish state has learned nothing from the Nazis and the Jewish leaders are worse than the Nazis.’ He was suspended and then expelled from the Labour Party and did not stand for re-election in May.

Cllr Humphrys said: “My advice to councillors is don’t go on social media. If you are tempted to like something on Facebook, don’t do it.

“We had a councillor of 30 years who was suspended from the council and the Labour Party and then expelled from the Labour Party over a social media post from several years before.

“If it’s on social media someone will trawl through it and find it.

“Do not air your disagreements with colleagues on social media. Do it in person.’ The committee accepted a report detailing three complaints between July 9 and October 18.They related to a complaint made by a member against another one following an altercation at a residents’ meeting; a complaint by a member of the public in relation to comments on social media by a member; and a complaint from a parish councillor about a message posted on social media by a borough councillor.

It also heard about 10 previous complaints against eight different councillors between October 2020 and June 2021, four of which were dropped.

One of those that was pursued related to the forwarding of a ‘WhatsApp’ message which contained inappropriate comments by councillor for which an apology was given.

Another was in respect of a social media message attributed to a councillor where no breach of the code of conduct was identified.

One related to comments made at a public meeting; another related to a question of a member’s participation in a meeting; one was in respect of the conduct of a meeting by the chair; another a complaint about comments made by a councillor for which an apology was accepted.