COUNCILLORS are to be issued with new guidelines governing how they should behave following complaints one councillor was spotted playing computer games during a debate.
Worcestershire County Council is going to draw up new guidance on what is expected of members after Fran Oborski was spotted playing Solitaire on her Ipad.
However, the new rules will only apply to meetings of the full council, because they are broadcast live on the website and are the main forum for voting on important decisions, like the budget.
At a meeting to discuss the issue yesterday, fellow councillors and members of the public said it was "unacceptable" for Cllr Oborski to play Solitaire during debates.
One resident, who was invited to attend the meeting to give his views, said it "almost" brought the council into disrepute and said no councillor should be playing games while debates are taking place.
The fresh guidance will now be drawn up by the council's legal chief Simon Mallinson and is expected to be published in July.
Your Worcester News revealed in March how Cllr Oborski, a Liberal, was spotted playing Solitaire on her iPad at a full council meeting.
It was the third time in one year that we had highlighted it, and it was later reported in satirical magazine Private Eye.
On one occasion a member of the public sat behind her at a meeting took a photo of her playing the game.
After a complaint was made to Worcestershire County Council the standards and ethics committee met yesterday yesterday to discuss it.
Councillor Stephen Peters said: "I think all of us would agree it's not acceptable to be playing games in a meeting.
"The message needs to go out to all members of the council that it's unacceptable, and the perception it sends to constituents and residents, as well as the perception it sends out of the way the whole council is operating."
Councillor Joe Baker said: "Would you see Tesco staff playing on their mobile phone while they are on a check-out, or someone in hospital doing the same when they are with a patient? I don't think so.
"Everyone in the council chamber should be focusing on the business at hand.
"There clearly needs to be stricter guidelines."
Dr Murray Mylechreest, a member of the public who sits on the panel, said: "The public will think 'we've elected them, they are voting on matters of concern', to me if they are playing games it almost brings the council's position into disrepute."
Councillor Ken Pollock appealed for councillors to be "realistic", saying MPs in the commons do not always focus completely on the matter they are debating.
He said it shouldn't always be regarded as disrespectful, pointing to the days when MPs were using pagers, technology which is now long redundant.
Councillor Anne Hingley, the chair, said: "What is clear from this debate is that we need to be more prescriptive."
The committee agreed to allow Mr Mallinson to draw up new guidelines, which are expected to focus on full council meetings only.
After the meeting Cllr Oborski said: "Solitaire is my screen saver so when it freezes it's always there, that was my problem.
"People are capable of multi-tasking but I do agree there needs to be guidance."
She said "without naming names" other councillors and officers had emailed her during council meetings, on topics not relevant to what was being debated.
It has been decided no further action should be taken against Cllr Oborski.