Watchdog to review local government ethical standards.

Since 2012 this has been a major issue in the Town and Parish Council sector.

There has been no effective redress for members of the public where a councillor fails to follow the Nolan Principles.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has launched a review of local government ethical standards with a call for evidence.

The terms of reference for the review are to...

  • examine the structures, processes and practices in local government in England for:
  • maintaining codes of conduct for local councillors
  • investigating alleged breaches fairly and with due process
  • enforcing codes and imposing sanctions for misconduct
  • declaring interests and managing conflicts of interest
  • whistleblowing
  • assess whether the existing structures, processes and practices are conducive to high standards of conduct in local government
  • make any recommendations for how they can be improved
  • note any evidence of intimidation of councillors, and make recommendations for any measures that could be put in place to prevent and address such intimidation

The review will consider all levels of local government in England, including town and parish councils, principal authorities, combined authorities (including Metro Mayors) and the Greater London Authority (including the Mayor of London).

 

The review will be led by committee member Dr Jane Martin CBE. She said:

“Robust arrangements to support ethical standards are needed to safeguard local democracy and facilitate the representative process, but also to ensure high standards of conduct by councillors. The Committee considers it is timely to undertake a health check of local government so the public can have confidence that the standards arrangements supporting local democracy are working effectively.

“The Committee has maintained a longstanding interest in local government ethical standards, and regularly receives correspondence from members of the public expressing their concern about this issue.”

Dr Martin added:

“We are keen to hear first-hand how effective councils’ standards arrangements are, in light of the substantial changes in the standards landscape for local government over the last ten years.

“We are interested in how local authorities have designed their complaints handling, scrutiny and sanctions regimes in order to maintain excellent ethical standards and how members, local government officials and the public experience them.

“The Committee would like to hear from councils and individuals who can help us understand how ethical standards issues are dealt with by local authorities.”

 

The call for evidence closes at 5 pm on 18 May 2018

The CSPL said that, based on the submissions to the review and meetings with key stakeholders, it intended to publish its findings and recommendations late in 2018.