Doncaster Council to adopt new code of conduct and complaints procedure for councillors

Doncaster Council is set to adopt a new code of conduct and complaints criteria for councillors.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 11:24 am
The Civic Office of Doncaster Council

A new complaints procedure will come into force alongside an updated code of conduct for members to better represent activities during virtual meetings and social media.

The council’s monitoring officer (MO) will investigate complaints for allegations such as: bullying, intimidation, failing to treat others with respect, misuse of public resources and failing to respect the confidentiality of information.

Other allegations which deem to be be looked into further also include: using their position improperly to aid their own or someone else’s advantage, failure to notify the MO of any gifts or hospitality received in their role as a member, worth over £50 and not properly declaring.

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The MO will not investigate ‘vexatious claims’ and matters subject to their private life.

DMBC’s monitoring officer receives dozens of complaints each year with the vast majority not being taken any further due to lack of evidence or the complaint is not deemed sufficient to proceed any further.

Those that do proceed, often are resolved locally through an apology but a very small number of cases do end up before a council committee.

Where the councillor being complained about offers an apology but the complainant is not willing to accept that offer, the MO will take account of this in deciding what further action, if any, should be taken.

Councillors who fall foul of the most serious complaints cannot be removed as a councillor and expenses cannot be taken away but they could have their local authority email and access to wider parts of Civic Office stripped if deemed appropriate.

If a councillor is affiliated to a political party, the whip could be removed and a report could be sent to the national party.

Scott Fawcus, assistant director of legal and democratic services and monitoring officer, said: “The current standards regime and most council codes of conduct date backto the Localism Act 2011.

“The council’s current code of conduct for members was adopted in July 2012 and it is an obvious statement that the world has changed substantially since that point and the current Codes did not envisage the impact of Social Media and the occasional issues that thoseinteractions can cause.

“In 2019, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) produced a report into local government ethical standards.

“Whilst the committee largely satisfied itself that the processes in place were appropriate, its main recommendation was that an updated model Code of Conduct be created, providing consistency across England and to reflect the common expectations of the public regardless of geography or tier.

“The Local Government Association was tasked with creating an updated model code, in consultation with representative bodies of councillors and officers of all tiers of local government.”

To make a complaint, email [email protected]

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