Labour council will allow staff to 'refuse all contact' with people they find annoying

13 May 2024, 17:12 | Updated: 14 May 2024, 12:29

The city of Oxford. England
The city of Oxford. England. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

A Labour council has said it will allow its staff to refuse contact with people they find annoying.

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Oxford City Council said it was introducing the policy to manage locals deemed "abusive, persistent and/or vexatious”.

Dubbed the “vexatious behaviour policy”, the change gives guidance to councillors and staff dealing with people making complaints or requests considered "manifestly unjustified", “inappropriate” or “intimidating”, the Oxford Mail reports.

The formalised changes allow staff to ignore people who "because of the nature or frequency of their contacts with the organisation, hinder the organisation’s consideration of their, or other people’s, complaints".

In exceptional circumstances, staff can "refuse all contact" with some people if their safety is also considered to be in risk.

But the policy has been criticised over concerns that Oxford Council may ignore serious concerns from constituents.

A cyclist and pedestrians pass the exterior of the offices of Oxford City Council
A cyclist and pedestrians pass the exterior of the offices of Oxford City Council. Picture: Alamy

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Approving the new strategy, Labour Council leader Susan Brown said: "This is one of those policies that you wish you didn't have to have and that you hope you'll never have to use but that we probably do need to have.

"It sets out rules by which we will take action if necessary in order to try and maintain services and good behaviour."

It comes after Oxford City Council drew backlash after banning meat and dairy products

Oxford Council's finance chief Ed Turner said that he considered the policy "regrettable" but stressed that "vexatious contact to councillors can be very distressing".

The council also came under criticism in 2021 after it banned meat and dairy products at official events.

Conservative councillors criticised the move as "gesture politics at its worst" stating it was "bullying" people into eating a vegan diet.

But the ruling Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party alliance that passed the policy said it "should be embracing the opportunity to set an example" to residents by backing government advice to reduce meat and dairy consumption.