Agenda item

Member Code of Conduct

To consider adopting the Local Government Association Model Councillor Code of Conduct.


The Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Licensing presented to Members a report on the Member Code of Conduct. The purpose of the report was to ask Members to consider adopting the Local Government Association Model Code of Conduct.


The Local Government Association introduced a new model Councillor Code of Conduct on 23 December 2020, which had been designed to protect a Councillor’s democratic role, encourage good conduct and safeguard the public’s interest in local government.


The new model Code had been developed in association with key partners and extensive consultation with the local government sector. A copy of the model Councillor Code of Conduct was attached at Appendix A to the report.


Feedback from the Monitoring Officer Network indicated that a significant number of authorities across the country had adopted the new model Code, either in full or adapting it to fit their particular local needs in line with the principles of the new Code.


In Lincolnshire, West Lindsey District Council adopted the model Code in its entirety. The City of Lincoln Council, East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council and North Kesteven District Council undertook reviews of their respective Codes and were either content that their existing Codes were consistent with the principles of the model Code, or made amendments where necessary to ensure that they were. It was understood that Boston Borough Council, East Lindsey District Council and South Holland District Council would be considering whether to adopt the model Code in the New Year.


South Kesteven District Council’s current Code of Conduct was based on the previous model Code and when compared to the new version it had key elements missing, such as sections on respect and bullying, harassment and discrimination.


The new model Code, as well as setting out the standards to be expected of anyone in public office, also provided definitions and examples of the behaviour and conduct that should be demonstrated by elected members under each section.


The new model Code also set out greater clarity with regard to the registration and disclosure of interests. Training on the new model Code, subject to its approval, was scheduled for 29 November 2021. The vast majority of Members were signed up for one of the three sessions, further sessions were in the process of being set up for anyone unable to attend.


In considering this report at the Constitution Committee, comments were made regarding the sanctions available to the Council should a breach of the Code of Conduct occur. Unfortunately, no changes had been made to the sanctions available to Monitoring Officers, or the Council as a result of the introduction of the model Code. It was noted that the revised document provided more clarity regarding the standards expected of elected members, as well as reminding all Members the type of behaviour that could not be tolerated and may result in the submission of complaints.


It was highlighted that whilst sanctions were limited from the perspective of the Monitoring Officer and Council, failure to register or declare interests correctly could lead to criminal prosecution.


There was no requirement for Members to ‘sign up’ to the new model Code of Conduct should the Council approve its adoption. All Members, when signing the declaration of acceptance of office form declared that they would “take the said office upon myself and will duly and faithfully fulfil the duties thereof according to the best of my judgement and ability”. Adhering to the Code of Conduct agreed by Council would constitute fulfilling the duties of the role.


The Cabinet Member proposed that Council adopted the Local Government Association Model Councillor Code of Conduct as appended to the report. This proposal was seconded.


Members debated the report and its recommendations.  Points made included:


·         Views expressed by Members at the Constitution Committee when the Code was discussed and that the sanctions contained in the Code were still inadequate.

·         Improvement in relation to registering pecuniary interests and ordinary interests.

·         Improvements to the sections on bullying and harassment and the use of social media.

·         Confirmation that the Code before Members was the Local Government Association Model Code without any amendments.

·         Some Members felt that the new Code did not make any meaningful difference and was “toothless” in respect of sanctions that could be applied to breaches of the Code.

·         Clarification in respect of probity within the Code and the Principles of Public Life based on the seven Nolan principals which were contained within the previous Code.

·         Impartiality to officers, when information before Councillors was felt to be incorrect or inaccurate.  Assurance that questions could be asked by Members to understand where information had come from and that this could be asked of both the Internal and External Auditors.

·         When the new Code would be used.  If the new Code was adopted today any breaches going forward would be in relation to the new adopted Code, historic breaches would be dealt with using the previous Code.


On being put to the vote the recommendations contained within the report were AGREED.




That Council adopts the Local Government Association new Model Councillor Code of Conduct.

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