considered a report on work undertaken since the last meeting to
prepare a new draft of a pan-Worcestershire Code of Conduct, based
on the Local Government Association’s Model Code of Conduct.
The Monitoring Officer presented the report and explained that the
Monitoring Officers from the Worcestershire Councils and Fire
Authority had prepared a draft Code, based on the LGA Code, for
conventions or requirements were recommended for retention by the
Monitoring Officers, these were highlighted in the draft. The
Monitoring Officer explained the rationale for each at the
Council’s standards committee had approved the draft Code
subject to the following words being inserted by way of an
amendment to the drafting of Section 1 (Respect):
“Respect means politeness and courtesy in behaviour, speech
and in the written word. Debate and
having different views are all part of a healthy
democracy. As a councillor you can
express, challenge, criticise and disagree with views, ideas,
opinions and policies in a robust but civil manner. You should not however, subject individuals,
groups of people or organisations to personal attack.”
“As strategic leaders and employers, it is expected that
councillors will set a positive example to staff by treating them
with politeness and courtesy at all times. Councillors have the right to criticise reports,
or the actions taken by officers, but they should always be
constructive, relate to the subject matter of the report and should
not be personal.”
Council’s committee debated a number of points on the draft
Code and while supportive overall of the general approach, resolved
to defer a decision on the Code until feedback from all of the
other local authorities was understood.
The draft recommended
by the Monitoring Officer for adoption was set out in Appendix 1.
The amendment proposed by Redditch Borough Council could be
accommodated if Members were supportive of it.
If the Committee were
supportive, the draft Code would be referred to full Council for
adoption. In view of the fact that the Code is still progressing
through iterations of governance at other local authorities,
delegated authority was sought to make any minor (i.e.
non-material) changes that might be required to ensure that a
version of the Code can be accepted by all the Worcestershire local
authorities. This should help retain the important opportunity to
have one Code applicable to all local authority elected members in
the county. If adopted, the new Code would be also be recommended
to all the Parish Councils in Worcestershire.
proceeded to debate the draft. A request was made to include an
example of a sensitive interest. The Monitoring officer suggested
that some text could be provided in the Code of Conduct section of
the Council’s website to cover this point.
Reference was made to
freedom of speech and how any changes in case law might conflict
with other rights which are protected, for example under the
Equalities Act. The Monitoring Officer
acknowledged this point and advised that Members will be kept
up-to-date on any relevant changes which might impact on the Code.
It is planned to offer training to Members on the Equalities
Committee Members took the view that a balanced approach has to be
maintained and that the Code should be adopted, as set out in
RESOLVED: That the Committee agree to recommend to Council the
adoption of the revised Member Code of Conduct set out in Appendix
1, with delegated authority to the Monitoring Officer, in
consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Standards
Committee, to make any minor changes in order to finalise a version
which is capable of being adopted on a pan-Worcestershire