Each Parish Council Member, whether Elected or Appointed to office, is bound by a Code of Conduct. The briefing below was given to Tendring Town and Parish Council Chairmen and Clerks, following a request made by Robert Taylor the TDALC Chairman at the TDC/TDALC liaison meeting held 4th November 2014 so that all Towns and Parishes to be made fully aware of the updated Code of Conduct.

 

***********************************************************

TDALC Briefing Session 12.1.15

 

‘Promoting High Standards’

Code of Conduct, Interests

and Decision Making

 

Lisa Hastings Monitoring Officer

Tendring District Council

 

Introduction

•         Role of District Council and Monitoring Officer

•         Localism Act 2011

•         Public Perception and Reputation – highlighted during pre-election

•         New Code (2013-14), covering responsibilities, decision making and interests (adopted by 22/27 – queries on 2)

•         Awareness session – Complaint considered in 2014

•         Councillors should refer to Clerk for specific advice

•         Website TDC and own Parish/Town Councils

 

When does the Code apply?

•         ‘Acting in Official Capacity’ – Test only as a Councillor

•         Conducting Council business, at meetings or otherwise

•         Act or giving the impression as acting as a Councillor

•         Acting as a Representative of the Council

•         Criminal convictions obtained through term of office

•         Dual/triple hatters – relevant Code of Conduct

•         Breach of the Code of Conduct will not make a decision unlawful but will affect the Council’s reputation

 

Nolan Principles – Defined within Code of Conduct

•         Selflessness

•         Integrity

•         Objectivity

•         Accountability

•         Openness

•         Honesty

•         Leadership

 

Code of Conduct – obligations

•         Some Local Councils made slight amendments to TDC Code to be more appropriate – will not affect the general obligations.

•         Duties and responsibilities not to:

–       Breach equality, disrespect, bully or harass or compromise the Council

•         Information:

–       Must not disclose confidential information or prevent access permitted by law

•         Conduct:

–       Not to bring Council into disrepute, make vexatious etc. complaints

–        

Code of Conduct - obligations cont.

•         Using your position or resources:

–       Not to use improperly

•         Decision making:

–       Merits of the circumstances and in the public interest

–       Regard to officers advice

–       Give reasons

•         Compliance with laws, rules and policies:

–       Covering expenses, allowances, Bribery Act, Member/Officer Protocol and Planning Protocol (*)

 

Members’ Interests

•         Parts 2 and 3 of the Code

•         Definitions of:

–       Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

–       Other Pecuniary Interests

–       Non-Pecuniary Interests

•         Sets out when to disclose/declare at meetings

•         Effect on participation at meetings

•         When to register and sensitive information

•         Paragraph 8 – duty to disclose and interests not considered as disclosable interests.

•         Member’s responsibility

 

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests   -  “DPIs”

•         Defined by law and 7 categories contained within the Code (Part 2 paragraph 4);

•         Register within 28 days of the Code being adopted or election, re-election etc. (Part 3, paragraph 11);

•         Local Council website or notify TDC Monitoring Officer

•         Disclose at the meeting (at which the business is considered) the existence and nature, whether or not registered (paragraph 7);

•         You must NOT participate and withdraw, unless a dispensation has been granted (Clerk) (paragraph 9).

•         Protocol agreed with Essex Police on reporting and information sharing – potential criminal offences

•         Leader of Dorset Council is currently facing trial

 

Other Pecuniary Interests

•         Defined in paragraphDefin 5

•         No need to register in advance

•         Disclose at the meeting (at which the business is considered) the existence and nature (paragraph 7);

•         Can still participate BUT refer to Paragraph 10.1

•         If the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice your judgement of the public interest

–       You are permitted to give representations and then withdraw, unless a dispensation has been granted (paragraph 10).

 

Non-Pecuniary Interests

•         Defined in paragraph 6 – more likely to occur

•         No need to register in advance

•         Disclose at the meeting (at which the business is considered) the existence and nature (paragraph 7);

•         Can still participate BUT refer to Paragraph 10.1

•         If the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice your judgement of the public interest

–       You are permitted to give representations and then withdraw, unless a dispensation has been granted (paragraph 10).

 

Decision Making Principles

•         Public perception and reputation;

•         Awareness that Local Council consideration of planning and licencing applications and representations will be the most impact on some public whereas others more involvement due to size of town or parished area;

•         Declarations of interests need to be clear and consistent and relevant to the items on the agenda

•         Paragraph 3.6 of the Code:

–       When reaching decisions do so on the basis of the merits of the circumstances involved and in the public interest, not for own reasons

•         Pre-determination and appearance of biased

•         Take account of Clerks advice

•         Give full detailed reasons

•         Recent cases involving decisions of Local Councils - localism

 

Predetermination and Appearance of Bias

•         Section 25 Localism Act 2011

•         Pre-disposition and pre-determination

•         Open mind

•         Remember actions and statements made before, at Council or Committee and after the decision can all be taken into account when judging pre-determination

•         Councillors own decision but based on awareness of public perception and responsibility to avoid legal challenge to decisions

•         Grounds for judicial review therefore COULD make a decision unlawful as well as affect the Council’s reputation

•         Could also be a breach of the Code of Conduct (e.g. paragraphs 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6)

 

Role of Councillors and Clerk

•         Members responsibility to make judgement on interests

•         Advice from Clerk to the Councillor with potential interest, if sought

•         General circumstances – general advice

•         Specific circumstances – opinion can be given

•         Do not advocate Councillors challenging or supporting other Members’ interests in open forum or public meeting – compromising the authority and perception of the public

Clerk is employed and subject to employment law as well – increase in cases nationally on behaviour towards Clerks

 

Dealing with Complaints

•         District Council’s jurisdiction Code of Conduct – limitation

•         Procedure adopted by District Council in November 2013 – not Local Council procedure

•         Follows principles of natural justice – tested by LGO

•         3 options to Monitoring Officer

•         No further action may include a recommendation

•         Response must be proportionate

•         Application of Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts

•         Disclosure of final decisions – public interest

 

Contact

•         Clerk in the first instance

•         Lisa Hastings, Monitoring Officer and Tendring Council’s Legal Services Manager (01255 686561) (lhastings@tendringdc.gov.uk) – not Local Council’s legal adviser

•         Martyn Knappett, Corporate Director (Corporate Services) and Deputy Monitoring Officer (01255 686501) (mknappett@tendringdc.gov.uk)

•         Email address: standards@tendringdc.gov.uk

 

M.J.T. 19/1/15.

 


copyright | privacy & security | communications| credits: Talbot Property Partners | © 2000-2016 St. Osyth Parish Council. all rights reserved