Council is asked to approve the adoption of a revised code of conduct.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe moved the motion and explained that the previous code of conduct had been agreed in 2012. Since then few incidents with members had been reported. The LGA had undertaken review work at the request of a number of councils that considered the guidance on codes of conduct needed updating. Councillor Izzi Seccombe that there is an expectation of behaviour in the council. There is a need to consider how we are regarded by our communities.
Councillor Andy Jenns seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.
Councillor Bill Gifford stated that members should be proud of how they behave. He stated that the Audit and Standards Committee had been told that there had been no complaints recorded against councillors. If there had been any disagreements, they had been managed without recourse to the code of conduct.
Councillor Andy Jenns (Seconder of the motion) agreed with all that had been said regarding the conduct of councillors.
A vote was held. The motion was agreed unanimously.
That Council approves the adoption of the revised code of conduct as set out in Appendix 1.
The meeting adjourned at 12.10.
The Council adopted its current Code of Conduct in 2012 based on the then model code published by the LGA. Officers have reviewed the new model code of conduct published by the LGA against the Council’s existing code and against the current legislative framework.
Cabinet Portfolio Holder – Councillor Kam Kaur
In introducing the report Councillor Kam Kaur stated that with the upcoming elections a review of the Code of Conduct was timely. The Local Government Association has published a model code of conduct. The council has chosen to use elements of this rather than the entire document.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) welcomed the update.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe added that the code is the basis of how members behave in Warwickshire. Councillor Colin Hayfield suggested that the Code of Conduct has rarely been called upon in Warwickshire as officers and members have always behaved in a friendly and professional manner. This view was echoed by Councillor Andy Crump (Portfolio Holder for Fire & Rescue and Community Safety).
That the Cabinet welcomes the draft Code of Conduct to Council and commends it to council.
The report and appendices are attached.
Jane Pollard (Legal Services Manager) introduced the report, stating that the Local Government Association (LGA) had published its new Model Code of Conduct in December 2020 in response to recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL). She advised that some of the recommendations made by CSPL would require changes in the law before they could be implemented. The new Model Code, which included principles as well as guidance, was substantially longer than its predecessor, which formed the basis of WCC’s existing Code of Conduct.
Jane Pollard reported that the new Model Code had received a mixed response from monitoring officers nationally. Jane Pollard advised that it was considered that the Council’s existing Member Code of Conduct had provided a sound platform upon which to promote high standards across the organisation. On that basis, she advised that it was not proposed to adopt the new LGA Code on a wholesale basis. However, some amendments drawn from the new Code had been incorporated into existing arrangements. The Committee’s view was sought in respect of this revised Code of Conduct set out in Appendix 1 to the report.
Jane Pollard advised that it was proposed to introduce a requirement to register offers of gifts and hospitality with an estimated value of £50. Elements of the new LGA Model Code that required further legislation before implementation had not been incorporated within the updated WCC Code.
Councillor Gifford highlighted point 3(j) of the revised Code of Conduct, in which a member would consent to “not disclose confidential information … Nor will I prevent people gaining access to information to which they are lawfully entitled.” He suggested that these two points be separated to ensure clarity.
Councillor Gifford drew attention to point 3(m) which referred to training requirements alongside a commitment to “not intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person…” He suggested that these two elements be disaggregated.
In response to Councillor Gifford’s observation that mediation was often the most effective means to resolve a complaint, Jane Pollard advised that, under the current arrangement, the monitoring officer was afforded flexibility in determining the appropriate course of action when a complaint was made, including the option to pursue mediation.
Sarah Duxbury (Assistant Director, Governance and Policy) stated that the approach that the Council has taken for many years has been to seek to resolve complaints at an early stage in a way that is acceptable to the complainant without requiring recourse to a formal hearing. The rights of the complainant, alongside the rights of elected members, had to be considered however the preferred outcome would be to resolve the complaint by agreement at the earliest possible stage. The Authority’s track record showed the benefits of this approach and it was not proposed to depart significantly from arrangements which had proved to be effective.
In response to Councillor Reilly, Jane Pollard advised that the adequacy of sanctions within current arrangements had been considered by the LGA. This was among the elements of the Model ... view the full minutes text for item 7