Parish – Code of Conduct

Farington Parish Council

The Code of Conduct for Elected Members

 

  1. Introduction

 

  1. This Code replaces the previous Code of Conduct for All Members and was adopted at the meeting of Farington Parish Council on 10 September 2012. This Code is in accordance with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011.

 

  1. This Code applies to you as a member of the Parish Council in all aspects of your public life and not when you are acting purely in a private and personal capacity.

 

  1. All members are expected to follow this Code when they are conducting the work of the Parish Council, or representing the Parish Council, on any external organisation, and otherwise acting in their official capacity.

 

  1. Where you act as a representative of the Parish Council

 

(a) on another relevant authority, you must, when acting for that other authority, comply with that other authority’s code of conduct; or

(b) on any other body, you must, when acting for that other body, comply with your authority’s code of conduct, except and insofar as it conflicts with any other lawful obligations to which that other body may be subject.

 

  1. You should read this Code together with the general principles listed in Section B.

 

  1. It is your responsibility to comply with the provisions of this Code. Members have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with the Code of Conduct in all respects. They should regularly review their personal circumstances and intended actions in the context of the Code.

 

  1. The Code is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the obligations that are placed on It is the responsibility of individual Members to comply with the provisions of the Code, the Parish Council’s Constitution, as well as such other legal obligations and all relevant Parish Council Policies as may apply to them from time to time.

 

  1. Members should not do anything in their capacity as councillors, which they could not justify to the public or could not justify by law. Members’ conduct and what the public believe about their conduct will affect the reputation and credibility of Members and the Parish Council as a whole.

 

  1. You should always conduct yourselves in a way which will maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of this Parish Council and should never undertake any action which would bring this Authority, or its Members and Officers generally, into disrepute.

 

  1. It is not enough to avoid impropriety; perception is also important. Members should at all times avoid any occasion for suspicion and any appearance of improper conduct.

 

  1. If in doubt, Members should seek advice from the Clerk or from the Borough Council’s Monitoring Officer or Deputy Monitoring Officer, but the final decision and responsibility on how to act rests with Members themselves.

 

  1. Failure to comply with the Code of Conduct may result in a sanction being applied by the Council. Failure to take appropriate action in respect of a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest may result in a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £5,000 and/or disqualification from office for a period of up to 5 years.

 

  1. South Ribble Borough Council has adopted an Investigation and Hearings Procedure which it will follow to consider any allegations of breach of this Code.

 

  1. The General Principles Of Public Life

 

These general principles define the standards that members should uphold. They are set out in section 28 of the Localism Act 2011.

 

Selflessness

You should serve only the public interest and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person, organisation or group, or any other third party

 

Integrity

You should not place yourself in situations where your honesty and integrity may be questioned; you should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

 

Objectivity

You should make decisions on merit, including when making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits.

 

Accountability

You should be accountable to the public for your actions and the manner in which you carry out your responsibilities, and should co-operate fully and honestly with any scrutiny appropriate to your particular office.

 

Openness

You should be as open as possible about your actions and those of this authority, and should be prepared to give reasons for those actions.

 

Honesty

You have a duty to declare any private interests relating to your public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

 

Leadership

You should promote and support these principles by leadership, and by example, and should act in a way that secures or preserves public confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. General Obligations

 

  1. You should always treat others with respect.

 

  1. You must not—

(a)     do anything which may cause your authority to breach any of the equality enactments;

(b)     bully any person;

(c)     intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is or is likely to be—

(i)      a complainant,

(ii)      a witness, or

(iii)     involved in the administration of any investigation or proceedings, in relation to an allegation that a member (including yourself) has failed to comply with his or her authority’s code of conduct; or

(d) do anything which compromises or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, this Council.

 

  1. You must not—

(a)     disclose information given to you in confidence by anyone, or information acquired by you which you believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature, except where—

(i)      you have the consent of a person authorised to give it;

(ii)      you are required by law to do so;

(iii)     the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional 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 authority; or

(b)     prevent another person from gaining access to information to which that person is  entitled by law.

 

  1. You—

(a)     must not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage; and

(b)     must, when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of your authority

(i)      act in accordance with your authority’s reasonable requirements;

(ii)      ensure that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes); and

(c)     must have regard to any applicable Local Authority Code of Publicity made under the Local Government Act 1986

 

  1. (1) When reaching decisions on any matter you must have regard to any relevant advice provided to you by:

(a)     your authority’s chief finance officer; or

(b)     your authority’s monitoring officer,

 

(2)     You must give reasons for all decisions in accordance with any statutory requirements and any reasonable additional requirements imposed by your authority.

 

  1. Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

 

  1. Appendix A sets out in detail what is considered to be a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.

 

  1. A ‘disclosable pecuniary interest’ relates to an interest of both yourself and your partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom you are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom you are living as if you are civil partners).

 

Notification of disclosable pecuniary interest

 

  1. Within 28 days of either the adoption of this code, becoming a member, co-opted member, Town or Parish Councillor (whichever is the earliest), you must notify the Monitoring Officer in writing of any ‘disclosable pecuniary interests’.

 

  1. Following initial disclosure, you must notify the Monitoring Officer within 28 days of becoming aware of any changes to a disclosable pecuniary interest previously notified or of any new disclosable pecuniary interest not previously notified

 

  1. Failure to make proper disclosure may result in criminal sanctions being brought against you (See Criminal Sanctions P6 Section D12)

 

  1. Details of your interests including any disclosable pecuniary interests will be kept on a central register which will be published on the Council’s website and be available for public inspection.

 

Sensitive interests

 

  1. Where you consider that disclosure of the details of a disclosable pecuniary interest could lead to you, or a person connected with you, being subject to violence or intimidation if the interest is entered on the register (and the Monitoring Officer agrees), copies of the register that are made available for inspection and any published version of the register will exclude details of that interest, but may state that you have a disclosable pecuniary interest but the details of which will be withheld under Section 32(2) of the Localism Act 2011.

 

Effect of disclosable pecuniary interests on participation in meetings

 

  1. If a disclosable pecuniary interest has been entered on to the Council’s register

 

  • You must state at the start of the meeting or as soon as possible after becoming aware of the fact that you have a disclosable pecuniary interest in the business being considered that you have such an interest.

 

  1. If a disclosable pecuniary interest has NOT been entered on to the Council’s register

 

  • You must state at the start of the meeting or as soon as possible after becoming aware that you have a disclosable pecuniary interest in the business being considered that you have such an interest AND (unless it is a “sensitive interest” – see above) what that disclosable pecuniary interest is.

 

  • You must then inform the Monitoring Officer (within 28 days of the meeting) of the previously undisclosed disclosable pecuniary interest details of which will then be published on the register.

 

  1. IN BOTH CASES i.e. as outlined in paragraph 8 & 9 above (unless dispensation has been granted):

 

–        You must immediately cease to have any further involvement in the rest of the matter being considered.

 

–        You must not participate in any discussion of, vote on or discharge any function related to any matter in which you have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

–        You must leave the room or chamber where the matter is being discussed.

 

Dispensations

 

  1. The Standards Committee may grant you a dispensation, but only in limited circumstances, to enable you to participate and vote on a matter in which you have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

Criminal Sanctions

 

  1. It is a criminal offence to :

 

  • Fail to notify the Monitoring Officer of any disclosable pecuniary interest within 28 days of election
  • Fail to disclose a disclosable pecuniary interest at a meeting if it is not on the register
  • Fail to notify the Monitoring Officer within 28 days of a disclosable pecuniary interest that is not on the register that you have disclosed to a meeting
  • Participate in any discussion or vote on a matter in which you have a disclosable pecuniary interest
  • As a member discharging a function, and having a disclosable pecuniary interest in such a matter, failing to notify the Monitoring Officer within 28 days of the interest.
  • Knowingly or recklessly providing information that is false or misleading in notifying the Monitoring Officer of a disclosable pecuniary interest or in disclosing such interest to a meeting.

 

The criminal penalties available to a court are to impose a fine not exceeding £5000 and disqualification from being a councillor for up to 5 years.

 

 

E    Other Interests

 

  1. Apart from Disclosable Pecuniary Interests there may also be other interests, whether they be financial or otherwise, which should be disclosed to the Monitoring Officer or a member of Legal or Democratic services (who may enter the details in the register) and which should be declared at the beginning of any meeting or as soon as possible on discovery that such an interest arises where that interest potentially conflicts with the business being discussed.

 

  1. Depending on the significance of the other interests it may also be necessary, especially if the interest may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest in the matter under discussion, to declare that interest, state your point of view if you wish to and then leave the room and take no further part in the matter under consideration.

 

Notification of Other Interests

 

  1. In addition to the disclosure of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests you must, within 28 days of either the adoption of this code, becoming a member, co-opted member, Town or Parish Councillor (whichever is the earliest), notify the Monitoring Officer in writing of the details of your interests within the following categories, for inclusion in the register of interests:

.

(a)     Details of any body of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management and to which you are appointed or nominated by your authority;

 

(b)     Details of any body exercising functions of a public nature, anybody directed to charitable purposes or anybody one of whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy (including any political party or trade union), of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management;

 

(c)     Details of any gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £25 that you have received in connection with your role as a member of the Council, and details of the donor (see below).

 

  1. You must, within 28 days of becoming aware of any new interest or change to any interest registered under this paragraph notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of that new interest or change.

 

Effect of disclosure of Other Interests on participation in meetings

 

  1. If an Interest has been entered on to the Council’s register

 

  • You must state at the start of the meeting or as soon as possible after becoming aware that you have an interest in the business being considered that you have such an interest AND (unless it is a sensitive interest – see above) what that interest is.

 

  1. If the interest has NOT been entered on to the Council’s register

 

  • You should then inform the Monitoring Officer or a member of Democratic or Legal services (within 28 days of the meeting) of the previously undisclosed interest details of which may then be published on the register.

 

  1. You have an interest in any business of your authority where a decision in relation to that business might reasonably be regarded as affecting your well-being or financial position or the well-being or financial position of a member of your family or any person with whom you have a close association.

 

  1. Where you have an interest in any business of the authority of the type mentioned in Section H, (gifts and hospitality) you need not disclose the nature or existence of that interest to the meeting if the interest was registered more than three years before the date of the meeting.

 

  1. Where you have an interest in any business of your authority and you have made an executive decision in relation to that business, you must ensure that any written statement of that decision records the existence and nature of that interest.

 

Non participation in case of certain other interests

 

  1. Where you have an interest in any business of your authority (other than a disclosable pecuniary interest) AND the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice your judgment of the public interest AND where that business:

 

  1. affects your financial position or the financial position of a person or body through whom the interest arises ;or
  2. relates to the determining of any approval, consent, licence, permission or registration in relation to you or any person through whom the interest arises,

 

you may make representations on the matter being discussed at the meeting, but you cannot vote. In addition, once you have made your declaration and representation (if any) you are required to leave the room where the meeting is held while any discussion or voting takes place.

 

  1. Where you have an interest in any business of your authority to which paragraph 10 above applies, you may attend a meeting but only for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business, provided that the public are also allowed to attend the meeting for the same purpose, whether under a statutory right or otherwise, and provided that you leave the room where the meeting is held immediately after making representations, answering questions or giving evidence.

 

  1. For the sake of clarity you may attend a meeting and vote on a matter that relates to the functions of your authority in respect of—

(i)      an allowance, payment or indemnity given to members;

(ii)     any ceremonial honour given to members; and

(iii)     setting council tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

  1. There are situations where, as a member, you may discharge a function on your own for example when working out on your ward. If whilst doing so you become aware of either a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest under paragraph 10 above in relation to the matter you are dealing with you must not take any steps or further steps in relation to that matter, or seek improperly to influence a decision about the matter and must inform the Monitoring Officer (in writing) as soon as possible after becoming aware of the said interest.

 

 

F    Registration Of Interests

 

  1. Any interests notified to the Monitoring Officer will be included in the register of interests.

 

  1. A copy of the register will be available for public inspection and will be published on the authority’s website.

 

  1. The requirement to disclose such interests only applies where you are aware or ought reasonably to be aware of the existence of such an interest.

 

  1. If a member has a sensitive interest (see Section D7 above) details of the fact they have an interest but not what the interest is will be entered on the Register.

 

  1. Interests Arising In Relation To Overview And Scrutiny Committees

 

  1. You also have an interest in any business before a scrutiny committee of this authority (or of a sub-committee of such a committee) where:

 

(a)     that business relates to a decision made (whether implemented or not) or action taken by your authority’s Cabinet or another of your authority’s committees, sub-committees, joint committees or joint sub-committees; and

 

(b)     at the time the decision was made or action was taken, you were a member of the cabinet, sub-committee, joint committee or joint sub-committee mentioned in paragraph (a) and you were present when that decision was made or action was taken.

 

  1. Where you have such an interest as is described in the preceding paragraph in any business of this authority, you may attend a meeting (including a meeting of the scrutiny committee of your authority or of a sub-committee of such a committee) but only for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business, provided that the public are also allowed to attend the meeting for the same purpose, whether under a statutory right or otherwise.

 

  1. Register Of Gifts And Hospitality

 

  1. You must register any gifts or hospitality received in connection with your official duties as a Member worth £25 or over within 28 days of receiving it.

 

  1. You must also register the donor of the gift or hospitality

 

  1. You should register an accumulation of small gifts you receive from the same donor over a short period of time that add up to £25 or more

 

  1. If you don’t know the value of a gift it would be good practice to register it anyway

 

  1. It is good practice to also register gifts or hospitality you do not accept

 

  1. Ask yourself “Have I been given this because I am a member?” if the answer is “yes” then you must register the item.

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