Issue - meetings

Meeting: 01/11/2021 - Council (Item 49)

49 Recommendation from the Governance and Audit Committee - Adoption of a New Code of Conduct for Members pdf icon PDF 274 KB

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The Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee presented the report, which stood recommended from his Committee.  The report recommended that West Lindsey District Council, and subsequently its Parishes, should adopt the new LGA Model Code of Conduct as the standard by which all Councillors should be expected to adhere.


Members had had the opportunity to engage in a workshop in advance of the decision, and reference was made to the pleasing level of engagement. The matter has had thorough debate at both the Standards Sub-Committee and the Governance and Audit  Committee and as such Members’ attention was drawn to the following points:


Section 2 of the report summarised the provisions of the new Code, many of which WLDC have already previously adopted, through its work in 2017/18.  The new Code did now include a requirement to comply with any sanctions issued, and to undertake training on Standards Matters and the Code of Conduct.


West Lindsey’s current ethos of declarations of interest wider than the legal requirements of the Localism Act were also supported within the new Code section 2.8 of the report provided details.


Members noted that whilst moving to the new Code was not a mandatory requirement, a national single code for all Members with clear wording, supporting guidance, working examples and explanatory text was something the Governance and Audit Committee had been of the belief should be welcomed.  


Should the recommendations be supported the Authority would over the next few months work with Parishes across the District to encourage that  they too adopted the new Code by May 2022.  The National Association Of Local Councils had indicated their intention to withdraw their current code, instead promoting the LGA Model Code as the standard to work to, indicating the national support behind the new model.


Finally, Council were asked to support the Standards Sub-Committee in continuing to lobby the Government to respond to the outstanding recommendations from the Committee for Standards in Public Life, particularly those relating to sanctions, by requesting the Leader to write to relevant Ministers to further highlight this important issue.


Debate ensued and a Member questioned the need for a new Code, given the majority of the provisions already existed in West Lindsey’s current code. Declarations of interest did not need further confusing, the additional level was purported to be for greater public transparency however it was suggested it would just cause further confusion. Mandatory training in the absence of any sanction was considered pointless.  It was questioned what action would be taken or could be taken if Councillors failed to attend training.  It was suggested the LGA was a little late with its revision and whilst the regime lacked “teeth”, the Code had little value regardless of its content. No sanctions could be applied and whilst accepting at a District Level group discipline could be applied and censure notices could be damaging to a Party’s reputation, this could not be said with regard to Parish Councillors.  The scope of when the code applied  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49

Meeting: 28/09/2021 - Governance and Audit Committee (Item 28)

28 Recommendation from the Standards Committee - Adoption of a New Code of Conduct for Members pdf icon PDF 319 KB

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Members gave consideration to a report, recommended by the Standards Sub-Committee relating to the adoption of a new Model Code of Conduct.


The report asked the Governance and Audit Committee to support the recommendation and refer the matter to Full Council for adoption and implementation.


In presenting the report Members’ attention was particularly drawn to Section 4 of the report, the requirements of the Code, the reasons for recommending its adoption, but also the lack of sanctions and the limitations this brought.


In response to Members, comments and concerns particularly around interests and examples of behaviour they have witnessed Officers again re-iterated adopting a new Code, provided an opportunity to retrain, reframe, share best practice.  The interests and situations referred to through the comments were recognised in the new Code but Members were reminded that it would always remain a Members personal responsibility to determine their level of involvement   Caution was also expressed that a Code was only part of the tools required by an MO and it would never solve all issues within parishes.


Members welcomed the training and asked that it include real life examples, lots of best practices and scenarios that could be applied to their day to day experiences


In responding to further comments, it was noted that a single national code had been abolished with the introduction of the 2011 Localism Act.  Since 2017 West Lindsey had adopted a fuller code, very similar to the new LGA Code.  49 of the parishes across the District had adopted the West Lindsey current Code.  NALC would be withdrawing their model code in favour of the new LGA version and as such it was hoped a single code across the District was achievable. 


Members indicated their support for one standard for all.


On that basis it was RESOLVED that: -



(a)    The recommendation from the Standards Sub-Committee be accepted and as such it be recommended to Full Council that: -


(i)    West Lindsey District Council adopts the LGA’s model code of Conduct and associated Guidance Notes as the Authority’s Code of Conduct with immediate effect.

(ii)   all Parish Council’s across the District be encouraged to adopt West Lindsey’s new Code of Conduct by May 2022; and

iii)   the roll-out process detailed in Section 5 of the report be approved and implemented.


(b)     The Committee supports the Standards Sub-Committee’s recommendation that “Officers be requested to continue lobbying Government Ministers for a change in legislation to allow for the decriminalisation of “interests”, and the re-introduction of proper meaningful sanctions” and as such it be further RECOMMENDED to Full Council that: -


(i)    Council offer similar support and request the Leader writes to the relevant Ministers to further highlight this important point.


(c)     prior to the Full Council Meeting in November 2021, training on the requirements of the new Code be provided to all District Councillors.