Report on the Arrangements for Ethical Standards
To provide the Committee with a summary of the Council’s ethical governance arrangements since October 2018 and to comment and give directionon those areas of best practice contained in the Government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life.
The Committee received a summary of the Council’s ethical governance and arrangements since October 2018 and considered the areas of best practice as recommended by the Government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life.
The Committee considered the areas of best practice, as set out in the report, and commented as follows:-
Best Practice 1 – the Committee agreed that similar wording could be considered as currently contained in the Council’s officers disciplinary policy and guidance with examples of the type of behaviour.
Best Practice 2 - the Committee agreed to include a provision in the Code of Conduct requiring Councillors to comply with formal standards investigations.
Best Practice 3 – Members were not minded to review the Code of Conduct every year but agreed it would be reviewed by the General Purposes Committee at their second meeting after Annual Council.
Best Practice 4 – the Code of Conduct was accessible on the Council’s website.
Best Practice 5 – Gifts and Hospitality were listed as part of the Councillor’s Register of Interest which was available on the Council’s website.
Best Practice 6 – the referral criteria listed in Part 5B of the Constitution was similar to a public interest test and it was noted that the Monitoring Officer (MO) would take into account public interest when considering code of conduct allegations.
Best Practice 7 - it was noted that the Council has access to 4 independent persons and they were paid as and when they completed work for the Council.
Best Practice 8 – it was noted that this was part of current practice except where the MO deemed a complaint to be without merit, vexatious or not disclosing a potential breach of the Code of Conduct in which case the Independent Person is generally not consulted.
Best Practice 9 – Decision Notices were published as per current practice.
Best Practice 10 – it was noted that this was current practice and available on the Council’s website.
Best Practice 11 – this was not applicable to this Council.
Best Practice 12 – the MO currently provides advice, support and management of investigations and the arranging of standards hearings for Town and Parish Councils.
Best Practice 13 – the MO will arrange for a provision to be included in Part 5B of the Constitution to address any conflicts of interest when undertaking a standards investigation, including asking the MO from a different authority to undertake the investigation.
Best Practice 14 – it was noted that ‘separate bodies’ would mean wholly owned companies such as LGSS Law Ltd and the new Council owned Housing Company and reporting would be via the annual governance statement submitted to the Audit Committee.
Best Practice 15 – Senior officers already meet with group leaders as and when the need had arisen and it was not considered necessary to hold a regular meeting for this.
Points and comments included:
· It was noted that Part 5B of the Constitution was recently amended to enable the MO to dismiss code of conduct complaints where there was no potential breach of the Code of Conduct.
· The Committee noted that the return rate for Councillors register of interest forms for Town and Parish Councils was poor and suggested that a letter should be sent to all Town and Parish Councils advising of any outstanding forms (preferably six months after the May elections).
1. that the Council had complied with its obligations in respect of ethical standards under the Localism Act 2011 for the period since October 2018; and
2. the areas of best practice, as outlined in the report, be implemented in accordance with the Committees comments above.
- GP Committee Report Ethical Standards2, item 48. PDF 91 KB
- GP Ethical Standards March 2019 Appendix A, item 48. PDF 89 KB
- GP Ethical Standards March 19 Appendix B, item 48. PDF 30 KB
- GP Ethical Standards March 19 Appendix C_1, item 48. PDF 28 KB