Agenda item


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 was always a contentious point and it was suggested, this matter had not been addressed, or further clarity offered by the revision.


In responding and in respect of mandatory training, the Monitoring Officer gave assurance that Officers would work with all Councillors to ensure they had the opportunity to engage in some form of training, making it as accessible as possible and in differing formats recognising competing responsibilities Members often had.


Members again sought indication of what action would be taken when a Member simply refused to undertake the training given they could not be removed or suspended from office.


Other Members across the Chamber spoke in support of the need for greater sanctions and the lack of credibility a system with no recompense held.


The Monitoring Officer again addressed the meeting, acknowledging the limited sanctions.  She too was an advocate for their re-introduction and could fully sympathise with Members’ comments and frustrations.  However, under the current regime, to issue any stronger sanction would be illegal.  Non-attendance at training could be dealt with by way of Public censure notice, but again the Monitoring Officer stressed, this was not in her interest nor her pre-planned intention, the approach taken would be one of working together, encouragement, and allowing ample opportunity for all to engage in at least some level of basic training. 


The Chairman of Governance and Audit Committee supported the Monitoring Officer, noting it would not be lawful to issue greater sanctions. Group discipline and council acing as a collective body of peers carried weight at District level and should be used  to deal with the worst of unacceptable behaviour.  In the meantime the Authority and Sub-Committee could only continue to lobby and raise concerns, given the tone of the comments, he indicated Council appeared to be supportive of this action and he encouraged Members to therefore support the action proposed.


Having being moved, seconded and on being put to the vote it was: -


RESOLVED that the recommendation from the Governance and Audit Committee be accepted and in doing so,  : -


(a)         the LGA’s model code of Conduct and associated Guidance Notes be adopted as the Authority’s Code of Conduct, with immediate effect.


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


(c )        the implementation of the roll-out process detailed in Section 3 of the report  and set out below be approved ;


Communications to Parish and Town Councils

November 2021


Series of Workshops / Training to be held with Parish Councils to raise awareness and encourage adoption.  These may be cluster events or attendance at individual Parishes Virtual arrangements will be used wherever possible

Jan – March 2022

All Parishes to have adopted the Code by their AGM in May 2022 and advised the DC accordingly

May 2022

Position Review

June 2022

Follow up work

June 2022 onwards




(d)         the Standards Sub-Committee’s previous 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” be supported and as such the Leader of the Council writes to relevant Ministers to further highlight this important point.



Note:    Councillors David Cotton, Chris Darcel and Tim Davies requested that their abstention against the above decision be recorded. 

Supporting documents: