Agenda item


The Director of Legal and Governance presented the report making Members aware that the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) relating to Local Government Ethical Standards was published in January 2019 and sought guidance on an appropriate response to the report.


The CSPL had found that the vast majority of councillors and officers worked to maintain the highest standards of conduct, however, some specific areas of concern had been identified.  A minority of councillors engage in bullying, harassment or other highly disruptive behaviour with a small number of parish councils giving rise to disproportionate numbers of complaints.


The report concluded that the current rules around conflicts of interest and in relation to gifts and hospitality are inadequate, while recognising that devolved arrangements should remain there was an expectation that they are strengthened in order to provide a more robust locally determined system.


The Director of Legal and Governance advised the Committee that it would be prudent to focus on the main best practice recommendations identified in the report as the CSPL will be reviewing the implementation of those points in 2020, further that informal working groups be arranged to consider and feedback to the committee. 


The best practice findings are set out below:-


Code of Conduct


·                     Local Authorities should include prohibitions on bullying and harassment in codes of conduct including a definition and list of examples;

·                     Include in the code a requirement for councillors to cooperate with formal standards investigations and to prohibit trivial or malicious allegations by councillors;

·                     The code should be reviewed annually and the views of the public, community organisations and neighbouring Authorities sought;

·                     Accessibility of the code should be examined and be readily available to Councillors and the public in a prominent.




·                     Local Authorities should update registers of gifts and hospitality quarterly and publish it in an accessible form.


Investigations and Safeguards


·                     That a public interest test for filtering complaints is adopted and published;

·                     At least two Independent Persons are appointed;

·                     Full hearing decisions, including a statement of facts, breaches, views of the Independent Persons, the reasons for the decision and the sanction applied should be published;

·                     Complaints guidance and information should be clearly displayed on websites.


Town and Parish Councils


·                     Standards complaints about the behaviour of a Parish Councillor towards a clerk should be made by the Chair of the Parish Council as a whole;

·                     The Monitoring Officer role and resourcing should include advice, support and management of Parish Council cases.



Role of the Monitoring Officer


·                     Local Authorities should have investigation conflict procedures, including use of Monitoring Officers from other Authorities.


Council Governance, Leadership and Culture


·                     The annual governance statement should include reporting on related bodies; those bodies to publish agendas, minutes and annual reports and abide by the Nolan principles;

·                     Senior officers should meet regularly with political group leaders or group whips regarding standards issues.




a)            informal working groups be arranged to discuss the findings of the CSPL report and feed back to the Committee in October for recommendation to Council;

b)            the Director of Legal and Governance (and Monitoring Officer) will explore the possibility of sharing the Monitoring Officer function to avoid investigation conflict via the Nottinghamshire Network.



To ensure the Committee charged with ensuring high standards of conduct is aware of the CSPL report and to ensure that it considers if any of the best practice recommendations contained in that report should be implemented by this Council.  The CSPL will review implementation of its best practice recommendations to local authorities during 2020.

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