WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL

COUNCILLORS’ CODE OF CONDUCT

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Purpose of the Code

 

The Localism Act 2011 requires this Council to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by its Members and Co-opted Members. In discharging its duty, the Council is required to adopt a Code of Conduct which sets out the conduct expected of its Councillors.

 

The content of this document reflects that which is included in the Principal Authority’s Code of Conduct, together with the recommendations of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and Government guidance relating to the new standards arrangements introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

 

The Council’s Code of Conduct is divided into 5 sections (plus 4 Appendices):

 

                        Section One                 Overarching principles

                        Section Two                Relationship with others

                        Section Three              Interests

                        Section Four                Management of information

                        Section Five                Investigation and determination of complaints

 

                        Appendix 1                 Guidance on pecuniary interests

                        Appendix 2                 Guidance on other interests

                        Appendix 3                 Declaration of Interests at Meetings form

                        Appendix 4                 Dispensation Request form

 

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to assist all Members in the discharge of their obligations to the Council, to their constituents and to the public at large by:

 

a)           establishing the standards and principles of conduct expected of all Members in undertaking their duties; and

 

b)          ensuring public confidence in the standards expected of all Members and in the commitment of the Council to upholding the Code through an open and transparent process.

 

Who does the Code apply to

 

This Code applies to all Members & Co-opted Members of Wexham Court Parish Council.

 

What does the Code apply to

 

The Code applies to a Member's conduct which relates in any way to their membership of the

Council. The Code does not seek to regulate the conduct of Members in their purely private and personal lives or in the conduct of their wider public lives unless such conduct significantly damages the reputation and integrity of the Council as a whole or of its Members generally.

 
 

SECTION 1: OVERARCHING PRINCIPLES

 

As a Member of the Council:

 

1.1        It is your responsibility to comply with the provisions of Wexham Court Parish Council’s Code of Conduct.

 

1.2        You must comply with this Code whenever you

(a)         conduct the business of the Council; or

(b)        you are acting as a representative of the Council.

 

1.3        Where you act as a representative of the Council

(a)         for another relevant authority, you must, when acting for that other authority, comply with that other body’s Code of Conduct; or

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

 

General Principles of Conduct

 

1.4        When acting in your role as a Member of the Council, you must ensure that you conduct yourself in such a manner that complies with the Seven Principles of Public Life (referred to in the Code as the ‘7 Principles’). These general principles of conduct were identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its First Report. These principles will be taken into account when considering the investigation and determination of any allegations of breaches of the Rules of Conduct.

 

1.5        A breach of any of the 7 Principles will be seen as breach of the Rules of Conduct.

 

1.6    The Seven Principles of Public Life are:

 

Principle 1.     Selflessness

 

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

 

Principle 2.     Integrity

 

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

 

Principle 3.     Objectivity

 

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make

choices on merit.

 

Principle 4.     Accountability

 

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must

submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

 

Principle 5.     Openness

 

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that

they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the

wider public interest clearly demands.

 

Principle 6.     Honesty

 

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

 

Principle 7.     Leadership

 

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

 

 

Key points:

Do ensure that, when acting in your capacity as a Member, you abide by the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Do remember that it is Members’ responsibility to comply with the Code.


 

SECTION 2: RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS

 

2.1    Members must treat others with respect.

 

2.2    Members have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination.

 

2.3    Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the Council as a whole, or of its Members generally.

 

2.4    Members must not undertake any act or omission that would undermine the Council’s duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct of Members.

 

2.5    When reaching decisions on any matter, Members must have regard to any relevant advice provided to them by the Council’s Finance Officer and/or the Proper Officer.

 

2.6    It is contrary to law for a Member to accept a bribe to influence his or her conduct as a Member, including any fee, compensation or reward in kind, in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to, any, Motion, or other matter submitted, or intended to be submitted to the Council.

 

2.7    Members should act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them. They should always behave with probity and integrity, including in their use of public resources. Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.

 

2.8    Members are personally responsible and accountable for ensuring that their use of any expenses, allowances, facilities and services provided from the public purse is applied for the support or in assistance of the carrying out of their duties as Members.

 

2.9    Members must not use their position as a Councillor to exert influence on relations with Council Officers or attempt to undermine the independence or impartiality of Council Officers when such Officers are acting in the course of their duties.

 

2.10 A Member must, if they become aware of any conduct by another Member which they reasonably believe involves a failure to comply with the Council’s Code of Conduct, speak to the Principal Council’s Monitoring Officer who can advise as to how the matter can be resolved. In doing so the Monitoring Officer can decide that the Member informal resolution route is the most suitable route.

 

 

Key points:

Do respect the impartiality and integrity of the Council’s Officers.

Do follow the advice given by these Statutory Officers.

Do not bully, intimidate or attempt to intimidate others.

 

 

SECTION 3: INTERESTS

 

Please note that updates to this section may be required as further Regulations on Interests are published by the Government. The Council will consider and interpret those Regulations for inclusion within the Code.

 

As a public figure, a Member’s public role may, at times, overlap with their personal and/or professional life and interests. However when performing a public role as a Member, you must

(a)     act solely in terms of the public interest; and

(b)     do not act in a manner to gain financial or other material benefits for yourself, your family, your friends, your employer or in relation to your business interests.

 

Where the Parish Council has its own website, its Code of Conduct and Register of Members’ Interests must be published on that website.

 

Registration of Interests

 

Under this Code of Conduct you must act in conformity with the Seven Principles of Public Life. One of these is the principle of honesty - that ‘holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest’.

 

Your registration of personal interests should be guided by this duty and you should give the Monitoring Officer the necessary information to keep that register up to date, and any other information which you consider should be entered in the register (see Appendices A and B for guidance). All sitting Councillors are required to register their declarable interests.

 

If you have a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not recorded in the register and which relates to any business that is or will be considered at any meeting of the Council or its Committees where you are present, you must disclose this to the meeting and tell the Monitoring Officer about it, if you have not already done so, so that it can be added to the register. You must do this within 28 days of disclosing the interest.

 

If you have a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not shown in the register and relates to any business on which you are acting alone, you must, within 28 days of becoming aware of this, tell the Monitoring Officer about it, if you have not already done so, so that it can be added to the register. You must also stop dealing with the matter as soon as you become aware of having a disclosable pecuniary interest relating to the business.

 

When you are first elected or co-opted as a Member to your Council, you must, within 28 days of becoming a Member, tell the Monitoring Officer about your disclosable pecuniary interests.

 

A person’s pecuniary interests are their business interests (for example their employment, trade, profession, contracts, or any company with which they are associated), and wider financial interests they might have (for example trust funds, investments, and assets including land and property). You have a disclosable pecuniary interest if you, or your spouse or civil partner (including any person with whom you are living as husband or wife), have a pecuniary interest listed in the national rules (see Appendix A). Interests of your spouse or civil partner are included to ensure that the public can have confidence that Councillors are putting the public interest first and not benefiting the financial affairs of themselves or their spouse or civil partner from which the Councillor would stand to gain.

 

If you are present at a meeting of your Council or its Committees, and you have a disclosable pecuniary interest relating to any business that is or will be considered at the meeting, you must not

(a)     participate in any discussion of the business at the meeting, or if you become aware of your disclosable pecuniary interest during the meeting, participate further in any discussion of the business; or

(b)     participate in any vote taken on the matter at the meeting.

 

These prohibitions apply to any form of participation, including speaking as a member of the public.

 

Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to an interest in Appendix B or relates to a financial interest of a friend, relative or close associate (other than an interest in Appendix A), the Member shall disclose the nature of the interest and not vote on the matter.  The Member may only speak on the matter if members of the public are also allowed to speak at the meeting. 

 

Sensitive Interests

 

A Member need only declare the existence, but not the details, of any interest which the Monitoring Officer agrees is a ‘sensitive interest’. A sensitive interest is one which, if disclosed on a public register, could lead to the Member, or a person connected to the Member, being subject to violence or intimidation.

 

Dispensations

 

A Parish Council is permitted to grant a dispensation to a Member to allow them to participate in a discussion or vote on a matter in which they have declared an interest. A Member must submit a written request for any such dispensation to the Parish Council’s Proper Officer. Dispensations may be granted by Full Council, or by the relevant Committee at which the interest is declared.

 

A Parish Council may grant a dispensation if, having had regard to all relevant circumstances, it considers that

a)     without the dispensation the number of persons prohibited from participating in any particular business would be so great a proportion of the body transacting the business as to impede the transaction of the business; or

b)     without the dispensation the representation of different political groups dealing with that business would be so upset as to alter the likely outcome of any vote; or

c)     granting the dispensation is in the interests of persons living in the Council’s area; or

d)     without the dispensation each Member of the Council’s executive would be prohibited from participating in the business; or

e)     it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.

 

A dispensation, when granted, must specify the period for which it has effect, and the period specified may not exceed 4 years.

 

The Full Council or Committee may consider applications by calling an extraordinary meeting in advance of the meeting that the dispensation is required for. Alternatively, an application for a dispensation may be considered/granted at the meeting at which it is required. Applications for a dispensation should be considered as a standing item of business on the Agenda.

 

Criminal Offences

 

Failure to register a disclosable pecuniary interest within 28 days of election or co-option (or re-election or re-appointment), or the deliberate or reckless provision of false or misleading information on registration, or participation in discussion or voting in a meeting on a matter in which the Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest will be criminal offences, potentially carrying a Scale 5 fine of £5000 and/or disqualification for up to five years. Prosecution is at the instigation of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

 

 

Key points:

Do seek advice if you are unsure whether to make a declaration.

Do be aware of the definitions of interest.

Do make all decisions on merit.

Do keep your register of interests up to date.

Do not place yourself in situations where your honesty and integrity may be questioned.

Do not use your position improperly for personal gain or to advantage family, friends or close associates.

 
 

SECTION 4: MANAGEMENT OF INFORMATION

 

4.1    Information which Members receive in confidence in the course of their duties as Members should be used only in connection with those duties. Such information must never be used for the purpose of financial gain.

 

4.2    Members must not disclose information given to them in confidence by anyone, or information acquired by them which is believed, or ought reasonably to be believed, to be of confidential nature. Members can only do so if

(a)     they have the express consent of the person authorised to give it; or

(b)     they are required by law to do so (Members must ensure they seek the advice of the Full Council in this regard before any disclosure); or

(c)     the disclosure is made to a third party, with the approval of Full Council, for the purpose of obtaining professional legal advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or

(d)     they have sought the consent of Full Council prior to its release.

 

4.3    Members must not prevent another person from gaining access to information to which that person is entitled by law.

 

4.4    Members must ensure that they do not improperly use knowledge gained solely as a result of your role as a Member for the advancement of yourself, your friends, your family members, your employer or your business interests.

 

4.5    Members must ensure that they do not misuse information gained in the course of their public service for personal gain or for political purpose, nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests or those of connected persons, firms, businesses or other organisations.

 

 

Key points:

Do not disclose information given to you in confidence by anyone.


 

SECTION 5: INVESTIGATION AND DETERMINATION OF COMPLAINTS

 

The Principal Authority (Slough Borough Council) is responsible for receiving, investigating and deciding Code of Conduct complaints which relate to Members of Parish Councils in their area.

 

The Monitoring Officer may investigate a specific matter relating to a Member’s adherence to the Rules of Conduct under the Code or a complaint made against a Member for breach of the Code of Conduct. The Monitoring Officer may subsequently decide that the matter can be dealt with informally, or may refer it to an Investigating Officer to determine whether it then needs to be referred to a Standards Determination Sub Committee. Thereafter a summary of the decision may be available for public inspection and will be reported to the next meeting of the Standards Advisory Committee.

 

Members shall cooperate, at all stages, with any such investigation by or under the authority of the Council. No Member shall lobby a member of the Standards Advisory Committee in a manner calculated or intended to influence its consideration of an alleged breach of this Code.

 

There is no right of appeal against a decision of the Monitoring Officer or of the Standards Determination Sub Committee.

 

APPENDIX A

 

Interests defined by regulations made under section 30(3) of the Localism Act 2011 and described in the table below.

 

If you have any of the following pecuniary interests, they are your disclosable pecuniary interests under the new national rules. Any reference to spouse or civil partner includes any person with whom you are living as husband or wife, or as if they were your civil partner.

 

Subject

Description

Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation

Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain by the Member or the Member’s spouse or civil partner.

Sponsorship

Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the Council) made to the Member within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a Member, or towards your election expenses. The relevant period is the 12 months ending on the day when you tell the Monitoring Officer about your disclosable pecuniary interests following your election or re-election, or when you became aware you had a disclosable pecuniary interest relating to a matter on which you were acting alone.

 

This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Contracts

Any contract made between you, or your spouse or civil partner (or a body in which any of these persons has a beneficial interest) and the Council -

 

(a) under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and

 

(b) which has not been fully discharged.

 

“Body in which any of these persons has a beneficial interest” means a firm in which they are a partner or a body corporate of which they are a director (including a member of the managing committee of an industrial and provident society), or in the securities* of which they have a beneficial interest.

Land

Any beneficial interest in land which you, or your spouse or civil partner, have and which is within the area of the Council.

 

Land excludes an easement, servitude, interest or right in or over land which does not carry with it a right to occupy the land or to receive income.

Licences

Any licence (alone or jointly with others) which you, or your spouse or civil partner, holds to occupy land in the area of the Council for a month or longer.

Corporate tenancies

Any tenancy where (to the Member’s knowledge) -

 

(a) the landlord is the Council; and

 

(b) the tenant is a body in which you, or your spouse or civil partner, has a beneficial interest.

Securities

Any beneficial interest in securities* of a body where -

 

(a) that body (to the Member’s knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the Council; and

 

(b) either -

 

(i) the total nominal value of the securities* exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or

 

(ii) if the share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

 

*’Securities’ means shares, debentures, debenture stock, loan stock, bonds, units of a collective investment scheme within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and other securities of any description, other than money deposited with a building society.

 
 

APPENDIX B

 

An interest which relates to or is likely to affect:

 

(i)           any body of which you are in a position of general control or management and to which you are appointed or nominated by the Council;

 

(ii)          any body -

(a)         exercising functions of a public nature; or

(b)         directed to charitable purposes; or

(c)         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;

 

(iii)        any gifts or hospitality worth more than an estimated value of £50 which you have received by virtue of your office.


 

APPENDIX C

Wexham Court Parish Council

Declaration of Interests Form

 

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR MEMBERS

Declaration of Interests at Meetings

 

This form should be completed by Members who declare an interest at any meeting of the Council, its Committees, or Sub-Committees.

 

Name of Member declaring interest: .............................................................................

 

Meeting/Date: ...............................................................................................................

 

Agenda Item: ………………………………………………………………………………….

 

Type of Interest declared (Please tick as appropriate):

Text Box:  
 

 

Non Pecuniary Interest                         

 

A Member with a personal interest in any matter may remain, speak and vote when the matter is considered.

 

Text Box:  
 

 

Pecuniary Interest                                

 

A Member with a Pecuniary interest in any matter must:-

 

·        withdraw from the room or chamber where a meeting is being held wherever it becomes apparent that the matter is being considered at that meeting, unless he/she has obtained a dispensation from the authority;

·        not exercise executive functions in relation to that matter; and

·        not seek to improperly influence a decision about that matter.

 

Nature/Detail of Interest

(Please indicate briefly what your interest is): ..............................................................

 

.......................................................................................................................................

 

.......................................................................................................................................

 

.......................................................................................................................................

 

Action to be taken following declaration (tick as appropriate):

 

Text Box:  
 

 Withdraw from meeting                         

Text Box:  
 

 Remain and speak

Text Box:  
 

 Remain and speak and vote

 

 

Signed: ...............................................................… Date: ............................................

 

This form, once completed, will be available for inspection by any Member of the Council or member of the public.


 

APPENDIX D

Wexham Court Parish Council

 

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR MEMBERS

Dispensation Request

 

This form should be submitted to the Proper Officer by Members who would like to apply for a dispensation to participate at any meeting of the Council, its Committees, or Sub-Committees, on any item in which they have declared an interest.

 

A Dispensation may be granted if the Council considers that:

 

a)    without the dispensation the number of persons prohibited from participating in any particular business would be so great a proportion of the body transacting the business as to impede the transaction of the business; or

b)    without the dispensation the representation of different political groups dealing with that business would be so upset as to alter the likely outcome of any vote; or

c)     granting the dispensation is in the interests of persons living in the Council’s area; or

d)    without the dispensation each Member of the Council’s executive would be prohibited from participating in the business; or

e)    it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.

 

 

Name of Member: .........................................................................................................

 

Meeting/Date: ...............................................................................................................

 

Agenda Item: ………………………………………………………………………………….

 

Reason for request: ………………………………………………………………………….

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

Text Box:  
 

 Request granted:                        yes

Text Box:  
 

                                                   no

 

If yes, is dispensation granted to:                    

Text Box:  
 

 

a)    Remain and speak

 

Text Box:  
 

b)    Remain and speak and vote

 

Period of effect of dispensation (not exceeding 4 years): …………………………………….

 

 

Signed (attending Officer): ................................................ Date: ......................................

 

This form, once completed, will be available for inspection by any Member of the Council or member of the public.

 

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