Complaints against Members
What is the Code of Conduct?
By Statute all members are required to sign up to a Code of Conduct following their election to office. The most recent Code which Members have agreed and signed up to was introduced in accordance with the Localism Act 2011. It provides the rules and requirements against which Members are obliged to comply. The issues are around Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Non-Pecuniary Interests and other Interests and it can be a criminal offence to fail to register interests or to attend and meeting and vote on a matter which is affected by such an interest.
What happens if a complaint is made about a Member?
Complaints about the conduct of any Member and failure to adhere to any of the provisions in the Code may be made by anyone. These should be made in writing and once received they will be initially assessed by a group of three people consisting of one of the Councils appointed Independent Persons, the Council’s Monitoring Officer and the relevant party Leader. In the case of complaints about Independent Councillors or a Party Leader the Mayor will replace the Party Leader in this process.
Who are the Independent Persons?
The Council has decided to appoint a total of three independent persons as well as an additional person to act as a substitute if needed. These people are appointed by the council following a formal application and interview process. They have a number of roles including providing advice to the council on all matters related to the Code, assisting in taking decisions on the seriousness of complaints, assisting on the decision on how these are resolved and also consulting with Members about whom the complaints are made.
What is the process followed for a complaint?
Following a complaint being received the 3 person group described above will consider the complaint to establish if there is any breach of the Code which may have been identified. If necessary, where there is considered to be a breach they will decide whether the matter should be considered as minor, serious or could be a criminal offence. Minor breaches will normally be resolved by the Party Leader through the group. Alternatively they may be resolved by the Mayor if appropriate for Independent Members.
Any action taken to resolve a complaint through the Party will be reported back to the Independent person. If they are not satisfied that the matter has been appropriately dealt with they may ask the Monitoring Officer to prepare a report. This may also occur in cases of repeated minor breaches
If the matter is considered serious the Monitoring Officer will normally be required to prepare a report on the matter. This will then be referred to the Independent Persons for them to decide how the matter is to be resolved. They can decide to resolve the matter through a number of alternative solutions set out below or refer the matter on to the next meeting of Ordinary Council.
If the matter is considered to be a criminal offence then the Monitoring Officer will be asked to prepare a file of papers for referral to the Police.
What powers or measures exist to deal with breaches?
Any breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct can be resolved by any one of a number of sanctions or a combination of them. These sanctions are not exhaustive but could include the following:
- Report on the findings to Ordinary Council (or to the Parish Council) for information.
- Recommending to Ordinary Council that the Member be issued with a formal censure or reprimand.
- Recommending through the Group leader or Ordinary Council that the Member be removed from any or all Committees or Sub Committees of the Council.
- Instructing the Monitoring Officer to arrange appropriate training for the Member.
- Removing the Member (or recommending to the Parish Council that they be removed) from all outside appointments to which he/she has been appointed or nominated.
- Withdrawing (or recommending that the Parish Council withdraws) facilities such as computer, web access, email or intranet access.
- Excluding (or recommending that the Parish Council excludes) them from meetings save for the need to allow them to represent their Ward/Parish.
What are Criminal Matters?
Under Section 34(I) of the Localism Act 2011 an offence is committed if a Member fails to notify the Council of relevant Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or other interest as required under the code and as described in the Act or participates in a debate and votes on a matter having disclosed relevant Interests. Such action carries with it not only the prospect of criminal prosecution but also reputational damage to the Council and also the prospect of challenge to the decision making process.
N.B. Reference to the Mayor shall include the Deputy Mayor and reference to the Party Leader shall include the Deputy Party Leader.
- Address: Brentwood Borough Council, Town Hall, Ingrave Road, Brentwood, Essex CM15 8AY
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 01277 312500
- Fax: 01277 312743
- Minicom: 01277 312809
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This page was updated on 17 April 2013.
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