5. Standards of councillor conduct - specific obligations
5. Standards of councillor conduct - specific obligations
5.1 Courtesy and Respect - as a councillor:
- 5.1.1 I treat other councillors and members of the public with courtesy and respect.
- 5.1.2 I treat Council employees, employees and representatives of partner organisations and those volunteering for the Council with courtesy and respect and respect for the role they play.
18.104.22.168 Respect means politeness and courtesy in behaviour, speech, and in the written word. Debate and having different views are all part of a healthy democracy. As a councillor, you can express, challenge, criticise and disagree with views, ideas, opinions and policies in a robust but civil manner. You should not, however, subject individuals, groups of people or organisations to personal attack. In your contact with the public, you should treat them politely and courteously. Rude and offensive behaviour lowers the public’s expectations and confidence in councillors.
22.214.171.124 In return, you have a right to expect respectful behaviour from the public. If members of the public are being abusive, intimidatory or threatening you are entitled to stop any conversation or interaction in person or online and report them to the Council, the relevant social media provider or the police. This also applies to fellow councillors, where action could then be taken under the Councillor Code of Conduct, and Council employees, where concerns should be raised in line with the Council’s Member / Officer Protocol.
5.2 Bullying, harassment and discrimination - as a councillor:
- 5.2.1 I do not bully any person.
- 5.2.2 I do not harass any person.
- 5.2.3 I promote equalities and do not discriminate unlawfully against any person.
- 5.2.4 I do not do anything which may cause the Council to breach a statutory duty or any of the equality enactments (as defined in section 33 of the Equality Act 2010)
126.96.36.199 The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) characterises bullying as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Bullying might be a regular pattern of behaviour or a one-off incident, happen face-to-face, on social media, in emails or phone calls, happen in the workplace or at work social events and may not always be obvious or noticed by others.
188.8.131.52 The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 defines harassment as conduct that causes alarm or distress or puts people in fear of violence and must involve such conduct on at least two occasions. It can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a person in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.
184.108.40.206 Unlawful discrimination is where someone is treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics are specific aspects of a person's identity defined by the Equality Act 2010. They are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
220.127.116.11 The Equality Act 2010 places specific duties on local authorities. Councillors have a central role to play in ensuring that equality issues are integral to the Council's performance and strategic aims, and that there is a strong vision and public commitment to equality across public services.
5.3 Impartiality of officers of the Council – as a councillor:
5.3.1 I do not compromise, or attempt to compromise, the impartiality of anyone who works for, or on behalf of, the Council.
18.104.22.168 Officers work for the Council as a whole and must be politically neutral (unless they are political assistants). They should not be coerced or persuaded to act in a way that would undermine their neutrality. You can question officers in order to understand, for example, their reasons for proposing to act in a particular way, or the content of a report that they have written. However, you must not try and force them to act differently, change their advice, or alter the content of that report, if doing so would prejudice their professional integrity.
5.4 Confidentiality and access to information – as a councillor:
5.4.1 I do not disclose information:
- a. given to me in confidence by anyone
- b. acquired by me which I believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature, unless
i. I have received the consent of a person authorised to give it;
ii. I am required by law to do so;
iii. the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional legal advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
iv. the disclosure is:
- reasonable and in the public interest; and
- made in good faith and in compliance with the
reasonable requirements of the Council; and
- I have consulted the Monitoring Officer prior to its release.
5.4.2 I do not improperly use knowledge gained solely as a result of my role as a councillor for the advancement of myself, my friends, my family members, my employer or my business interests.
5.4.3 I do not prevent anyone from getting information that they are entitled to by law.
22.214.171.124 Local authorities must work openly and transparently, and their proceedings and printed materials are open to the public, except in certain legally defined circumstances. You should work on this basis, but there will be times when it is required by law that discussions, documents and other information relating to or held by the Council must be treated in a confidential manner. Examples include personal data relating to individuals or information relating to ongoing negotiations.
5.5 Disrepute – as a councillor:
5.5.1 I do not bring my role or Council into disrepute.
126.96.36.199 As a councillor, you are trusted to make decisions on behalf of your community and your actions and behaviour are subject to greater scrutiny than that of ordinary members of the public. You should be aware that your actions might have an adverse impact on you, other councillors and/or your Council and may lower the public’s confidence in your or your Council’s ability to discharge your/its functions. For example, behaviour that is considered dishonest and/or deceitful can bring your Council into disrepute.
188.8.131.52 You are able to hold the Council and fellow councillors to account and are able to constructively challenge and express concern about decisions and processes undertaken by the Council whilst continuing to adhere to other aspects of this Code of Conduct.
5.6 Use of position – as a councillor:
- 5.6.1 I do not use, or attempt to use, my position improperly to the advantage or disadvantage of myself or anyone else.
- 5.6.2 I will not act as agent for people pursuing planning matters within the Council’s administrative area.
184.108.40.206 Your position as a member of the Council provides you with certain opportunities, responsibilities, and privileges, and you make choices all the time that will impact others. However, you should not take advantage of these opportunities to further your own or others’ private interests or to disadvantage anyone unfairly.
5.7 Use of the Council’s resources and facilities – as a councillor:
- 5.7.1 I do not misuse Council resources.
- 5.7.2 I will have regard to any applicable Local Authority Code of Publicity made under the Local Government Act 1986 or any similar Communications Protocol or Code produced by the Council;
- 5.7.3 I will, when using the resources of the Council or authorising their use by others:
a. act in accordance with the Council's requirements; and
b. ensure that such resources are not used for political purposes unless that use could reasonably be regarded as likely to facilitate, or be conducive to, the discharge of the functions of the Council or of the office to which I have been elected or appointed.
220.127.116.11 You may be provided with resources and facilities by the Council to assist you in carrying out your duties as a councillor.
- office support
- equipment such as phones, and computers
- access and use of Council buildings and rooms.
These are given to you to help you carry out your role as a councillor more effectively and are not to be used for business or personal gain. They should be used in accordance with the purpose for which they have been provided and the Council’s own policies regarding their use.
5.8 Complying with the Code of Conduct and the Council’s codes and protocols– as a councillor:
- 5.8.1 I undertake Code of Conduct training provided by my Council.
- 5.8.2 I cooperate with any Code of Conduct investigation and/or decision.
- 5.8.3 I do not intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is likely to be a complainant, a witness or involved with the administration of any investigation or proceedings that any councillor has failed to comply with the Council’s Code of Conduct.
- 5.8.4 I comply with any sanction imposed on me following a finding that I have breached the Code of Conduct.
- 5.8.5 I will comply with the Codes and Protocols forming part of the Council’s Constitution
18.104.22.168 It is extremely important for you as a councillor to demonstrate high standards, for you to have your actions open to scrutiny and for you not to undermine public trust in the Council or its governance. If you do not understand or are concerned about the Council’s processes in handling a complaint you should raise this with your Monitoring Officer.
22.214.171.124 The Council resolved at its 20th October 2021 meeting that the Council should pay for training imposed by way of sanction in relation to district councillors.
126.96.36.199 Following the regular election of Members (See Article 2.2) or upon election following a by-election each Member must attend mandatory Code of Conduct, equalities and safeguarding training and Council has resolved, by adopting this Code of Conduct, that a failure to do so will preclude Members from sitting on any committee of the Council.