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Complaints, Complaining, Code of Conduct and Town or Parish Councillors

Since the 2012 Localism Act complaining about a councillor is now a post code lottery and practices vary by council and principal authority. The rights of the public have been significantly decreased. The previous code of conduct which covered Town and Parish councillors was repealed and replaced with a system of what is effectively self regulation under the Localism Act 2012. The previous code of conduct had “teeth” and was administered by the principal authority's (A Unitary, District or County Council) monitoring officer.

As with most self regulation it has and is failing dismally leaving residents with little or no recourse. The Town or or parish clerk was not and is not covered by the code of conduct as they are an employee of the council.

How do I complain about a parish councillor?

Since the Localism Act 2012 complaining about a town or parish councillor is a post code lottery. There is no longer a national body to oversee standards. In theory you should complain to the council itself.

Principal authority monitoring officers have no power to enforce decisions or actions on town or parish councils or councillors.

You may need to contact the monitoring officer at your District or Unitary authority. LA 2012 c7 s28(9)(b) The introduction of the Localism Act 2012 has made this an uncertain matter. Principal Authorities have no power to enforce any decision.

Allegations that a councillor has breached the code of conduct must be made in writing. LA 2012 c7 s28(9)

You should write to the Council concerned explaining the actions of the individual councillor.

A Parish Councillor was abusive to me, how should I complain?

There may be different codes of conduct in place for neighbouring parish councils. When a Town or Parish Councillor signs their Declaration of acceptance of Office there is no longer an undertaking by the councillor to abide by the town or parish councils code of conduct.

Town and parish councils are part of local government and councillors must meet the standards set out in the Nolan principles.

This type of complaint needs to be referred in writing to both the town or parish council and the Monitoring Officer at the District Council or Unitary Authority. It is worth noting that under the new regime the monitoring officer has no powers or sanctions over the councillor or council.

To read more about bullying click here...

Click here to download or view the Best Practice Guide on Complaining...

A CPALC 60 Second Guide (08) to the Parish Council Code of Conduct

A CPALC 60 Second Guide (11) To The Nolan Principles

Does the new code of conduct apply to co-opted parish councillors?

Whilst not elected by residents Town and Parish councillors who are co-opted have nearly the same rights as councillors who are elected. Co-option is the legal process followed by councils when what is known as a casual vacancy cannot be filled by election.

A casual vacancy arises when a councillor resigns or dies between ordinary elections. Ordinary elections are held every 4 years. A cop-opted councillor serves for the remainder of the council's term and then stands for election with all the councillors.

The previous code of conduct which covered Town and Parish councillors was repealed and replaced with a system of what is effectively self regulation under the Localism Act 2012. The previous code of conduct had “teeth” and was administered by the principal authority's (A Unitary, District or County Council) monitoring officer.

All councillors are covered by the new code of conduct. It does not matter whether they have been elected at an ordinary election or co-opted in-order to fill a casual vacancy.

Must parish councillors register interests under the code of conduct?

Town and parish councillors and councils must comply with requirements of the Localism Act 2012. Town and parish councillors are not members of a private members club, charity or a residents association. They are democratically elected for a 4 year term of office by residents registered to vote in the town or parish.

There are specific legal requirements under the Localism Act 2012 relating to both the registration, disclosure and publication of councillors interests.

All councillors are legally required to complete the register of interests. These declarations of interest must be submitted to the principal authority monitoring officer.

The council if it has a website MUST publish each councillors register of interests on it's website. If the council does not have its own website then the register must be published on principal authorities website.

DCLG guidance clearly states these requirements. A link from the town or parish council website to the principal authority website is insufficient.

A Councillor's house is in the same street as planning application?

 The previous code of conduct which covered Town and Parish councillors was repealed and replaced with a system of what is effectively self regulation under the Localism Act 2012. The previous code of conduct had “teeth” and was administered by the principal authority's (A Unitary, District or County Council) monitoring officer.

Electors and residents now face a post code lottery as different forms and interpretations of enforcing the code of conduct will be implemented from county to county. Each town or parish council is free to decide whether to write its own code of conduct or adopt that of its principal authority.

This means that there may be different codes of conduct in place for neighbouring parish councils. When a Town or Parish Councillor signs their Declaration of acceptance of Office there is no longer an undertaking by the councillor to abide by the town or parish councils code of conduct.

This Councillor clearly has a pecuniary interest. A pecuniary interest is one which involves not only money but assets, land, tenancies, sponsorship, contracts, investments, local businesses.

The statutory Instrument 2012 # 1464 providing details of disposable pecuniary interests under the new code of conduct enacted by the Localism Act. Covers...

  • Employment,trades,professions etc
  • Sponsorship
  • Contracts
  • Land
  • Licences
  • Corporate tenancies
  • Securities

What happens next will and may vary. Best practice is that the councillor declares the interest at the start of the meeting and leaves the room whilst the matter is debated. Whether or not that happens is a moot point.

A CPALC 60 Second Guide (08) to the Parish Council Code of Conduct

Can Parish Councillors get special favours?

Councillors work under a strict Code of Conduct, and such behaviour is not acceptable, The Clerk is covered under the anti corruption provisions of the Local Government Act 1972.

Council decisions are delivered by the council's proper officer who may or may not be called the town or parish clerk. Councillors may accept gifts of very small value but are covered by a code of conduct which is supposed to cover other such circumstances.

The previous code of conduct which covered Town and Parish councillors was repealed and replaced with a system of what is effectively self regulation under the Localism Act 2012. The previous code of conduct had “teeth” and was administered by the principal authority's (A Unitary, District or County Council) monitoring officer.

Can Parish Councillors accept gifts?

Town and parish councils are part of local government and councillors must meet the standards set out in the Nolan principles. Councillors can receive gifts in a personal capacity i.e. from friends and family without restriction.

However, any gift that they receive because they are a Parish Councillor that is over £50 in value has to be registered. Please note that the amount changes from time to time and the preceding amount may be out of date.

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