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Strengthen Ethical Standards Regime: Report Recommends

Published 1st February 2019

SLCC CEO Rob Smith and SLCC President Sarah Jeffries with Dr Jane Martin CBE and Lord Evans, the Committee Chairman, at the launch

The long awaited report of the Independent Committee on Standards in Public Life (previously the Nolan Committee) on Ethical Standards in Local Government was published yesterday. It contains a special chapter on town and parish councils and many of the 26 recommendations intended to promote and maintain the standards expected by the public, relate directly to them.

Although the report, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, is specific to England, it does refer in some detail to the standards regime in the devolved administrations from which some of its recommendations are drawn.

The specific recommendations include:
  • There should be a new national model code of Standards for Local Government
  • All towns and parishes should follow the Code of their relevant principal authority or the new model code
  • Regulations should be amended to clarify that a councillor need not include their home address in the Register of Interests
  • A principal authority’s decision on sanctions for a parish councillor should be binding (at present it is only a recommendation to the parish to consider)
  • Monitoring Officers should be provided with adequate training, corporate support and resources to undertake their role in providing support on standards issues to parish councils, including in undertaking investigations and recommending sanctions
  • Sanctions for contravening the Code should include suspension of the councillor, subject to appeal
SLCC President, Sarah Jeffries, CEO Rob Smith and Head of Advisory Services, Lis Moore, were invited to the launch of the Report at Westminster and the new National Legal Advisor, Jonathan Goolden, took part in a panel discussion which followed the launch.
Commenting on the Report, CEO Rob Smith said: “SLCC is delighted that the Committee have acted on our representations and very much welcomes the Report’s recommendations which address many of our concerns about the inadequacy of the current Standards regime. We look forward to working with sector partners in persuading Government to adopt and implement the recommendations which will go a long way to addressing the appalling level of bullying, especially of parish clerks, in our sector.”
Click here to view the Report   
Kirsty Cole, a former Monitoring Officer and consultee on the Report, presented on the background to the report and commented upon its implications at the Regional Training Seminar in Bedford on Wednesday. Click here to view the presentation.

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