Ministers publish "illustrative text" of local authority code of conduct PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 April 2012 14:46

The Department for Communities & Local Government has published an “illustrative text” setting out what a council’s code of conduct might look like under the incoming standards regime.

Publication of the document, which can be found here, comes after the Standards Board for England was formally abolished on 31 March. 

The DCLG confirmed that the new regime will come into effect from 1 July 2012, when all standards matters – “including consideration and determination of outstanding complaints made during the period the Standards Board regime was operating” – will be the responsibility of local authorities.

A 'Nolan-based' code, the involvement of an independent person in allegations of misconduct, and the new criminal offence for failing to declare or register interests will also come into force on that date.

The DCLG said the new code was a matter for local determination, but its text illustrated what one might look like.

“By releasing councils from the old regime of prescriptive uniform codes councils will be able to ensure that their own codes encourage freedom of speech and can not be used to silence or discourage conscientious councillors from whistle blowing on misconduct,” it claimed.

It also suggested that the new framework would be particularly welcome at smaller authorities and parish councils.

Local Government Minister Bob Neill, who has written to council leaders arguing that the changes represent an opportunity to raise local standards, said: “As the death knell tolls for the unpopular and unelected Standards Board regime, councils and communities can look forward to a new era of locally set codes of conduct that will prevent corruption, ensure high standards in public life, and put an end to petty, partisan and malicious complaints that have dragged down the reputation of local government.

"Instead of having hundreds of expensive and frivolous investigations hanging over their heads local councillors will be free to get on with the job of getting the best for their local area. But far from letting councillors off the hook without any checks we are ensuring that they conform to the highest standards and anyone who abuses their position for personal gain can expect to face the full force of the law."

The Local Government Association, Solace and the Association of Council Secretaries & Solicitors are understood to have agreed their own template for a code of conduct. Differences over the respective merits of two previous drafts were reportedly resolved earlier this month. 

 

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