Adopted by Chard Town Council on 20th August 2012
Introduction and Interpretation
As a member and representative of this Council it is your responsibility to comply with this Code when you undertake or claim to be undertaking Council business or give the impression that you are undertaking Council business.
As a representative of this Council your actions impact on how the Council as a whole is viewed by the public. It is important, therefore, that you do not do anything when undertaking Council business which you could not justify to the public. It is not enough to avoid actual impropriety, you should at all times avoid any occasion for suspicion or appearance of improper conduct.
This Code is based upon the seven principles of public life which are set out at Appendix 1. You shall have regard to those principles when fulfilling your role.
An explanation of the terms used in this Code can be found in Appendix 2.
- General Obligations
When undertaking Council business you must:
- treat others with respect;
- not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to give yourself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage;
- when reaching decisions on any matter, consider any relevant advice provided to you by—
- the Council’s Proper Officer (Town Clerk/RFO)
- in accordance with his or her statutory duties;
- give reasons for decisions in accordance with any statutory requirements and the Constitution of the Council;
- act in accordance with the Council’s Constitution and the policies contained within it and any other relevant Council policies;
- not use Council’s resources improperly (including for political purposes);
- avoid doing anything which may cause the Council to breach a statutory duty or any of the equality enactments (as defined in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010);
- not bully any person;
- not intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is or is likely to be—
- a complainant,
- a witness,
- involved in the administration of any investigation or proceedings, or
- any other person carrying out the functions of the Council,
in relation to an allegation that a member (including yourself) has failed to comply with the Council’s code of conduct;
- avoid doing anything which compromises or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, the Council;
- not 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—
- you have the consent of a person authorised to give it;
- you are required by law to do so;
- the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional legal advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
- the disclosure is—ii. made in good faith and in compliance with the reasonable requirements of the Council; and
- i. reasonable and in the public interest; and
- you have consulted the Proper Officer prior to its release;
- not prevent another person from gaining access to information to which that person is entitled by law; and
- not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute.2. Interests 2.1 You must register and declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests that relate to your public duties as required by this Code, and set out in Appendix 3.2.2 You must, within 28 days of this Code being adopted by the Council or your taking office as a member or co-opted member, register your Disclosable Pecuniary Interests with the Council’s Monitoring Officer. Disclosable Pecuniary Interests will be recorded in the District Council’s Register of Members’ Interests and made available for public inspection.2.3 Within 28 days of becoming aware of any new Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or change to any such interest already registered, you must register details of that new interest or change in writing to the Council’s monitoring officer.
- Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
- Where any business of the Council, relates to or affects a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest whether registered under 2.2 or 2.3 above or not, and you attend any meeting of the Council, any Committee or Sub-Committee, at which that business is to be considered, you must:
- not seek to influence a decision about that business
- disclose to that meeting the existence and nature of that interest no later than the start of the consideration of the business in which you have that interest, or (if later) the time at which the interest becomes apparent to you. The exception to the requirement to disclose an interest is if the matter is a sensitive interest under paragraph 2.11
- withdraw from the meeting room or chamber as soon as it becomes apparent that the business is being considered at that meeting; unless you have obtained a dispensation from the Council.2.5 Following any disclosure at a meeting or as part of a decision record, of a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest not on the Council’s register or the subject of pending notification, you must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days beginning with the date of the disclosure at the meeting.2.6 Unless a dispensation has been granted, you may not participate in any discussion of, vote on, or discharge any function related to any matter in which you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. Additionally you must observe the restrictions the Council places on your involvement in matters where you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest as defined by the Council and set out in this Code.
- Other Interests
NOTE: It is conceivable that an interest could be categorised as both a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and a personal or a personal and prejudicial interest. If so you must treat it as a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and comply with the requirements set out in paragraphs 2.1 – 2.6 inclusive
2.7 (1) In addition to the Disclosable Pecuniary Interests notifiable under the Localism Act 2011, you must, within 28 days of—
- a) this Code being adopted by or applied to the Council; or
- b) your election or appointment to office (where that is later),
give written notification to the Monitoring Officer of the details of your other personal interests, as defined in 2.8(1) (i) and (ii) below, for inclusion in the register of interests. The exception to this requirement is if the detail of the personal interest is classified as sensitive – see paragraph 2.11.
(2) You must, within 28 days of becoming aware of any new personal interest or change to any such registered interest, notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of that new interest or change.
2.8 (1) You have a personal interest in any business of the Council where:
- a) it relates to or is likely to affect—
(i) 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 the Council;
(ii) any body—
(a) exercising functions of a public nature;
(b) established for 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;
- b) a decision in relation to any business of the Council might reasonably be regarded as affecting your well-being or financial position or the well-being or financial position of a significant person to a greater extent than the majority of other council tax payers, ratepayers or inhabitants of the electoral division, as the case may be, affected by the decision;
(2) Subject to sub-paragraphs (3) to (5) below, where you are aware of a personal interest described in paragraph (1) above in any business of the Council, and you attend a meeting of the Council at which the business is considered, you must disclose to that meeting the existence and nature of that interest at the start of the consideration of that business, or when the interest becomes apparent to you.
(3) Where you have a personal interest in any business of the Council which relates to or is likely to affect a significant person (see paragraph 1 (b) above and Appendix 2 for the interpretation of the term ‘significant person’), you need only disclose to the meeting the existence and nature of that interest if and when you address the meeting on that business.
(4) Where you have a personal interest but the interest is not detailed in the Council’s register of members’ interests because of the sensitive nature of the interest, you must indicate to the meeting that you have a personal interest, but need not disclose the sensitive information to the meeting.
(5) Where you have a personal interest in any business of the Council and you have made an individual decision in relation to that business, you must ensure that any written statement of that decision records the existence and nature of that interest subject to (4) above.
(6) Any personal interests notified to the Monitoring Officer will be included in the register of interests.
(7) A copy of the register will be available for public inspection.
2.9 (1) Where you have a personal interest in any business of your Council you also have a prejudicial interest in that business where 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 judgement of the public interest and where that business—
(a) affects your financial position or the financial position of a significant person (other than another town, parish, district or county council of which you are also a member); or
(b) relates to determining any approval, consent, licence, permission or registration in relation to you or any significant person (other than another town, parish, district or county council of which you are also a member).
(2) Subject to paragraph (3) and (4), where you have a prejudicial interest in any business of your Council—
(a) You may not participate in any discussion of the matter at a meeting.
(b) You may not participate in any vote taken on the matter at a meeting.
(c) You must disclose the existence and nature of the interest to the meeting and leave the room where the meeting is held while any discussion or voting takes place on the matter. The exception to the requirement to disclose the detail of the interest is if the matter is a sensitive interest under paragraph 2.11. In these circumstances you need only state that you have a prejudicial interest and that the details are withheld because of the sensitive information involved.
(3) Where you have a prejudicial interest in any business of your Council, you may attend a meeting but only for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business and you leave the meeting room immediately after making representations, answering questions or giving evidence.
(4) Subject to you disclosing the interest at the meeting, you may attend a meeting and vote on a matter where you have a prejudicial interest that relates to the functions of your Council in respect of—
(i) housing, where you are a tenant of your Council provided that those functions do not relate particularly to your tenancy or lease;
(ii) school meals or school transport and travelling expenses, where you are a parent or guardian of a child in full time education, or are a parent governor of a school, unless it relates particularly to the school which the child attends;
(iii) statutory sick pay under Part XI of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, where you are in receipt of, or are entitled to the receipt of, such pay;
(iv) an allowance, payment or indemnity given to members;
(v) any ceremonial honour given to members; and
(vi) setting council tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
(5) Where you may take an individual decision, and you become aware of a prejudicial interest in the matter which is the subject of the proposed decision you must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest and must not take any steps or further steps in the matter, or seek to influence a decision about the matter.
Receipts of gifts and hospitality
2.10 (1) You must, within 28 days of receipt, notify the Proper Officer in writing of any gift, benefit or hospitality with a value in excess of £25 which you have accepted as a member from any person or body other than the Council.
(2) The Proper Officer will place your notification on a public register of gifts and hospitality which forms part of your register of interests.
2.11 (1) If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or a Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interest but you consider that disclosure of the interest could lead to you or a person connected with you being subject to violence or intimidation and the Monitoring Officer agrees with that assessment then instead of disclosing the interest you need only disclose that you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interest (as the case may be). In such instances any published version of the register of interests will exclude details of the interest but may state that you have an interest, the details of which are withheld.
Overview and Scrutiny
(1) In relation to any business before an Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the Council (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 the Council or one of the Council’s committees, sub-committees and
(b) at the time the decision was made or action was taken, you were a member of the Council, committee, sub-committee mentioned in paragraph a) and you were present when that decision was made or action was taken; or
(c) that business relates to a decision made (whether implemented or not) or action taken by you (whether by virtue of the Council’s constitution or under delegated authority);
you may attend a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee or sub-committee of the Council but only for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business.
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC LIFE
Holders of public office should act 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.
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
COUNCIL’S CODE OF CONDUCT – INTERPRETATION
In the Council’s Code of Conduct the following words shall have the following meanings ascribed to them—
- “the Act” means the Localism Act 2011;
- “Disclosable Pecuniary Interest” is as defined in Appendix 3
- “meeting” means any meeting of—(b) any of the Council’s, its committees or sub-committees whether or not the press and public are excluded from the meeting in question by a resolution of members
- (a) the Council;
- “member” includes a co-opted member and an appointed member.
- “sensitive information” means information relating to a member’s interests that the monitoring officer has determined need not be included in the member’s registration of an interest or any change to that interest, by virtue of the fact that its availability for inspection by the public is likely to create a serious risk that any person may be subjected to violence or intimidation
- “bullying” means offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour based on abuse or misuse of power or authority which attempts to undermine
- “disrepute” means a lack of good reputation or respectability which can be reasonably regarded as reducing the public’s confidence in that member being able to fulfil their role or adversely affecting the reputation of members generally in being able to fulfil their role
- “significant person” in relation to personal and personal and prejudicial Interests means a member of your family or any person with whom you have a close association; or any body-(2) exercising functions of a public nature;(4) 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
- (3) established for charitable purposes; or
- (1) of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management and to which you are appointed or nominated by the Council;
- “wellbeing” means a condition of contentedness, healthiness and happiness. Anything that could be said to affect a person’s quality of life, either positively or negatively, is likely to affect their wellbeing. It is not restricted to matters affecting a person’s financial position
- “close association” means someone that you are in regular contact with over a period of time who is more than an acquaintance or colleague. It may be a friend, a business associate or someone you know through general social contacts. It is someone who a reasonable member of the public might think you would be prepared to favour or disadvantage when discussing a matter that affects them.
- “member of your family” means partner i.e. someone you are married to, your civil partner, or someone you live with in a similar capacity, a parent, a parent-in-law, a son or daughter, a stepson or stepdaughter, the child of a partner, a brother or sister, a brother or sister of your partner, a grandparent, a grandchild, an uncle or aunt, a nephew or niece, and the partners of any of these people
capacity, a parent, a parent-in-law, a son or daughter, a stepson or stepdaughter, the child of a partner, a brother or sister, a brother or sister of your partner, a grandparent, a grandchild, an uncle or aunt, a nephew or niece, and the partners of any of these people’
DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS
This note explains the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 (Ss 29-34) in relation to disclosable pecuniary interests.
These provisions are enforced by criminal sanction.
They come into force on 1 July 2012.
1 Notification of disclosable pecuniary interests
Within 28 days of becoming a member or co-opted member, you must notify the Monitoring Officer of any ‘disclosable pecuniary interests’.
A ‘Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’ is an interest of yourself or 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) within the following descriptions:
|Employment, office, trade, profession or vacation||An employment, office trade profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.|
|Sponsorship||Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the Council ) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by M in carrying out duties as a member, or towards the election expenses of M.This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.|
|Contract||Any contract which is made between the relevant person (or a body in which the relevant person 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.|
|Land||Any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the Council.|
|Licences||Any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the Council for a month or longer.|
|Corporate tenancies||Any tenancy where (to M’s knowledge) –(a) the landlord is the Council; and (b) the tenant is body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest.|
|Securities||Any beneficial interest in securities of a body where –(a) that body (to M/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.
These descriptions on interests are subject to the following definitions;
“the Act” means the Localism Act 2011;
“body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest” means a firm in which the relevant person is a partner or a body corporate of which the relevant person is a director, or in the securities of which the relevant person has a beneficial interest;
“director” includes a member of the committee of management of an industrial and provident society;
“land” excludes an easement, servitude, interest or right in or over land which does not carry with it a right for the relevant person (alone or jointly with another) to occupy the land or to receive income;
“M” means the person M referred to in section 30 of the Act;
“member” includes a co-opted member;
“relevant authority” means the Council of which M is a member;
“relevant period” means the period of 12 months ending with the day on which M gives a notification for the purposes of section 30(1) of the Act;
“relevant person” in relation to disclosable pecuniary interests means M or M’s spouse or civil partner or a person with whom M is living as husband and wife or a person with whom M is living as if they were civil partners;
“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.
The Proper Officer, Council, committees or sub-committees may grant 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. Dispensation has been delegated and should be sought from the Proper Officer where there are so many members with disclosable pecuniary interests that the council/committee is inquorate as a result. The two other grounds where a dispensation could be granted are where it is in the interests of people living in the area or is otherwise appropriate. These two grounds will be granted dispensation by the council, committee or sub-committee as a whole rather than delegated to an officer.
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
- Discharging a function acting alone, 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 level 5 on the standard scale and disqualification from being a councillor for up to 5 years.
Guidance on Bias and Predetermination –This is not part of the code of conduct
- Where you have been involved in campaigning in your political role on an issue which does not impact on your personal and/or professional life you may participate in a decision on the issue in your political role as a member. However, you must not place yourself under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence you in the performance of your official duties.
- When making a decision, consider the matter with an open mind and on the facts made available to the meeting at which the decision is to be taken.