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Agenda item

Standards in Public Life Consultation on Local Government Ethical Standards

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Head of Legal and Democratic Services which updated the Committee on the outcome of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) consultation on Local Government Ethical Standards (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The report provided details of the 5 key recommendations:

 

a)    Updating the model code of conduct and extending it to Parish Councils

b)    Presumption of official capacity

c)    Extending the list of Registerable Interests

d)    A new objective test for when Councillors must withdraw or not vote

e)    Strengthening the sanctions system.

 

Members discussed the proposals and noted that Councillors would be deemed to be acting in their official capacity unless they could demonstrate otherwise.  

 

Members welcomed the strengthening of sanctions and noted the recommendation that local authorities would be allowed to suspend Councillors without allowances for up to 6 months. In response to questions, the Monitoring Officer advised that although the detail was to be agreed she expected that suspension would be reserved for the most serious of breaches. The Local Government Ombudsman would have remit for Parish and Town Councils only in respect of appeals against suspension.

 

Following a further question about the promotion of ethical standards and discipline among political groups, the Monitoring Officer advised that there was an expectation that groups would require Councillors to undertake training in this regard.

 

Resolved:

 

That

 

a)    the CSPL report on Local Government Ethical Standards be noted;

 

b)    the Durham County Council Member Code of Conduct be reviewed at the next meeting in the light of the CSPL report.

 

Supporting documents:

 

Contacts
Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham
County Durham
DH1 5UL
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03000 269 714