The Local Government Association has published a revised update to the New Model Code of Conduct for Councillors which was approved by full Council in June 2021.
The Standards Committee is responsible for monitoring the Code of Conduct and for making recommendations to Full Council on any changes to the Code.
The Committee is asked to consider the changes identified in the appendix to this report and asked to recommend the changes to full Council for adoption.
The Head of Democratic Services presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The Committee was reminded of the background to the process of adoption of a new Code of Conduct for Councillors and the model Code produced by the Local Government Association (‘LGA’) had been adopted for use at BCP Council in June 2021. It was explained however, that, after widespread adoption of the model Code on a country-wide basis, a number of ambiguities had been identified by the LGA who had made subsequent changes and revisions without drawing these to the attention of Local Authorities. It was now therefore necessary to adopt the revised Model and, additionally, to address some additional minor local alterations. These were explained and set out in the report.
An additional benefit of using the model Code was consistency across the County and the Chief Executive of the Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils and the Clerks of individual Parish and Town Councils would be advised of the provision within the Code. This communication would also need to explain the minor revisions made subsequently to the Code by the LGA and by the BCP Council after the circulation of the initial version.
The Committee highlighted the importance of underpinning the adoption of the Code with a comprehensive programme of training for Members. It was confirmed that three dates in November had already been identified and notified to Councillors and that at each of these events the Code would be presented alongside and in the context of the Guidance provided by the LGA. The Guidance also incorporated a revised ‘flow chart’ setting out the steps for declaring an interest under the Code and it was agreed that this should replace the existing chart currently set out with the agenda for all meetings of the Council. This would also include links to the BCP Council Monitoring Officer and to the LGA website where further supporting information and advice could be accessed.
Members emphasized the importance of all Councillors attending the training being offered and there was support for, as far as possible, training being delivered on a face-to-face basis and the opportunity would therefore be taken to deliver the training in that format. Political Group Leaders were encouraged to highlight to their individual members the critical importance of attending one of the offered training sessions.
Members also identified the benefits of a more in-depth training session for the Standards Committee members and appointed Independent Persons to re-enforce the Committee’s specific role under the Code. It was agreed to email Members of the Committee to identify a suitable date and place.
RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL
That the proposed changes to the Local Government Association Model Councillor Code of Conduct, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report to the Standards Committee, be adopted subject to the following further amendments and additions:
(a) the online guidance published by the LGA the Local Government Association relating to the Model Councillor Code of Conduct be noted;
(b) the guidance flowchart published by the LGA be adopted to replace the flowchart currently published on the reverse of agenda front sheets.