MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT – TEMPLATE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR LOCAL COUNCILS PRODUCED BY THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL COUNCILS
The National Association of Local Councils has produced a template code of conduct for local councils. The document outlines the reasons that this has been done and also contains the template code. Councils should note that NALC has been working with the Local Government Association to try to develop a generic code but in the end NALC felt that there was need for the production of a template code which is aimed specifically at the local council sector.
Councils will see that regulations still need to be written with regard to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPIs); it is not known when these will be published but as 1 July is the deadline for revised codes, the regulations cannot be too far away.
This notification should be read in conjunction with previous briefings from YLCA which have been e-mailed/posted to members together with information that was included in the last edition of the White Rose Update newsletter.
NALC’s template code of conduct for parish councils
The National Association of Local Councils has produced a template code of conduct for local councils because:
- it does not recommend that local councils adopt the Local Government Association’s (LGA) template code of conduct and
- local councils may not want to draft their own or adopt their principal authority’s code of conduct.
Unlike the LGA’s template code of conduct, the attached NALC template code of conduct has the following features:
- 1. It uses concise and clear language to define members’ obligations in respect of their conduct.
- 2. It incorporates members’ mandatory obligations in respect of disclosable pecuniary interests. These are yet to be defined by regulations which are expected to be made before 1 July 2012 and will be inserted in Appendix A of the NALC template.
- 3. It sets out other pecuniary interests and non pecuniary interests in Appendix B of the NALC template about which members have obligations with regard to registration, disclosure, and speaking at meetings.
- 4. It describes the circumstances in which a local council may grant a dispensation for members to partcipate and vote on a matter at a meeting.
- 5. It accommodates variations to be made to it except in relation to members’ mandatory obligations about disclosable pecuniary interests in Appendix A. Substantive amendments to the NALC template code of conduct are not recommended because it establishes (i) the minimum standards for members’ conduct which are consistent with the Nolan principles of conduct in public life and (ii) a proportionate range of pecuniary and non pecuniary interests which members are subject to.
It is likely that some of the interests presently included in Appendix B of the NALC template will constitute disclosable pecuniary interests, prescribed by regulation, and that any such interests will need to be included in Appendix A. NALC will publish the final version of its template code of conduct after regulations which define disclosable pecuniary interests have been made.
This briefing was issued by Meera Tharmarajah, Solicitor and Head of Legal Services
ã NALC 2012
NALC template code of conduct for parish councils
Pursuant to section 27 of the Localism Act 2011, X [Parish/Town/Village/ Community/Neighbourhood] Council (‘the Council’) has adopted this Code of Conduct to promote and maintain high standards of behaviour by its members and co-opted members whenever they conduct the business of the Council including the business of the office to which they were elected or appointed or when they claim to act or give the impression of acting as a representative of the Council.
This Code of Conduct is based on the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.
For the purposes of this Code, a ‘co-opted member’ is a person who is not a member of the Council but who is either a member of any committee or sub-committee of the Council, or a member of, and represents the Council on any joint committee or joint sub-committee of the Council, and who is entitled to vote on any question that falls to be decided at any meeting of that committee or sub-committee.
For the purposes of this Code, a ‘meeting’ is a meeting of the Council, any of its committees, sub-committees, joint committees or joint sub-committees.
For the purposes of this Code, and unless otherwise expressed, a reference to a member of the Council includes a co-opted member of the Council.
When a member of the Council acts, claims to act or gives the impression of acting as a representative of the Council, he/she has the following obligations.
- He/she shall behave in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as respectful.
- He/she shall not act in a way which a reasonable person would regard as bullying or intimidatory.
- He/she shall not seek to improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.
- He/she shall use the resources of the Council in accordance with its requirements.
- He/she shall not disclose information which is confidential or where disclosure is prohibited by law.
Registration of interests
6. Within 28 days of this Code being adopted by the Council, or the member’s election or the co-opted member’s appointment (where that is later), he/she shall register all interests which fall within the categories set out in Appendices A and B.
7. Upon the re-election of a member or the re-appointment of a co-opted member, he/she shall within 28 days re-register any interests in Appendices A and B.
- A member shall register any change to interests or new interests in Appendices A and B within 28 days of becoming aware of it.
- A member need only declare on the public register of interests 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 the member or a person connected with the member to be subject to violence or intimidation.
Declaration of interests
9. Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to an interest in Appendix A the member shall not participate in a discussion or vote on the matter. He/she only has to declare what his/her interest is if it is not already entered in the member’s register of interests or if he/she has not notified the Monitoring Officer of it.
10. Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to an interest in Appendix A which is a sensitive interest, the member shall not participate in a discussion or vote on the matter. If it is a sensitive interest which has not already been disclosed to the Monitoring Officer, the member shall disclose he/she has an interest but not the nature of it.
- Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to an interest in Appendix B, the member shall withdraw from the meeting. He/she may speak on the matter before withdrawing only if members of the public are also allowed to speak at the meeting.
12. A member only has to declare his/her interest in Appendix B if it is not already entered in his/her register of interests or he/she has not notified the Monitoring Officer of it or if he/she speaks on the matter before withdrawing. If he/she holds an interest in Appendix B which is a sensitive interest not already disclosed to the Monitoring Officer, he/she shall declare the interest but not the nature of the interest.
13. Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to a financial interest of a friend, relative or close associate, the member shall disclose the nature of the interest and withdraw from the meeting. He/she may speak on the matter before withdrawing only if members of the public are also allowed to speak at the meeting. If it is a ‘sensitive interest’ the member shall declare the interest but not the nature of the interest.
- On a written request made to the Council’s proper officer, the Council may grant a member a dispensation to participate in a discussion and vote on a matter at a meeting even if he/she has an interest in Appendices A and B if the Council believes that the number of members otherwise prohibited from taking part in the meeting would impede the transaction of the business; or it is in the interests of the inhabitants in the Council’s area to allow the member to take part or it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.
Such interests, as prescribed by regulations, are……
[Unless they are interests prescribed by regulation for inclusion in Appendix A] any interest which relates to or is likely to affect:
(i) any body of which the member is in a position of general control or management and to which he/she is appointed or nominated by the Council;
(ii) any body—
(a) exercising functions of a public nature;
(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 the member of the Council is a member or in a position of general control or management;
(iii) any employment or business carried on by the member;
(iv) any person or body who employs or has appointed the member;
(v) any person or body, other than the Council, who has made a payment to the member in respect of his/her election or any expenses incurred by him/her in carrying out his/her duties;
(vi) any person or body who has a place of business or land in the Council’s area, and in whom the member has a beneficial interest in a class of securities of that person or body that exceeds the nominal value of £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital (whichever is the lower);
(vii) any contract for goods, services or works made between the member’s Council and the member or a firm in which he/she is a partner, a company of which he /she is a remunerated director, or a person or body of the description specified in paragraph (vi);
(viii) any gifts or hospitality worth more than an estimated value of £50 which the member has received by virtue of his or her office.
(ix) any land in the Council’s area in which the member has a beneficial interest;
(x) any land where the landlord is the Council and the member is, or a firm in which the member is a partner, a company of which the member is a remunerated director, or a person or body of the description specified in paragraph (vi), is the tenant;
(xi) any land in the Council’s area for which the member has a licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy for 28 days or longer.
Wonder how many parish/town councils can tick all the boxes for all their councillors on this.
Examples of this happening or not, as the case may be, very welcome.