Code of Conduct

Pursuant to section 27 of the Localism Act 2011, Water Orton Parish 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. The Council expects such members to discharge their duties in line with the General Principles of Public Life set out in this code:

GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC LIFE

Members should only behave in a way that is consistent with the following principles:-

SELFLESSNESS

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.

INTEGRITY

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.

OBJECTIVITY

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.

ACCOUNTABILITY

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.

OPENNESS

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.

HONESTY

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.

LEADERSHIP

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

It is the personal responsibility of each Councillor to comply with the Code and to seek advice from the Monitoring Officer in any cases of doubt that may arise in respect of such compliance.

For clarification, the Code of Conduct does not apply to what Councillors do in their private lives.

Definitions

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.

General obligations

In addition to the General Principles of Public Life, 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.

  1. He/she shall behave in such a way that a reasonable person would regard as respectful.
  2. He/she shall not act in a way which a reasonable person would regard as bullying or intimidatory.
  3. He/she shall not seek to improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.
  4. He/she shall use the resources of the Council in accordance with its requirements.
  5. He/she shall not disclose information which is confidential or where disclosure is prohibited by law.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

  1. On taking up office an elected or co-opted member must, within 28 days of his/her appointment register with the Monitoring Officer the interests which fall within the categories set out in the table below:
  2. Upon the re-election or re-appointment, an elected or co-opted member must, within 28 days, re-register with the Monitoring Officer any ‘Disclosable Pecuniary Interests’.
  3. It is the personal responsibility of each member to keep their Register of Members Interests up to date by notifying the Monitoring Officer in writing of any change within 28 days of such a change taking effect.
  4. A member need only declare 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.

Disclosable pecuniary interests are defined in the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 as follows:–

Interest Prescribed description
Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation Any 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 relevant authority) 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).
Contracts Any contract which is made between the relevant person (or a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest) and the relevant authority— (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 relevant authority.
Licences Any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the relevant authority for a month or longer.
Corporate tenancies Any tenancy where (to M’s knowledge)— (a) the landlord is the relevant authority; and (b) the tenant is a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest
Securities Any beneficial interest in securities* of a body where—

(a)  that body (to the member’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 member, or his/her spouse or civil partner or the person with whom the member is living as if they were spouses/civil partners has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

Declaration of interests at meetings

  1. If an elected or co-opted member is aware that they have a ‘Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’ in a matter which is already registered in the Register of Members Interests, they MAY disclose it in the meeting AND in all cases (whether registered in the register or not) they must not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter at a meeting, as to do so is a criminal offence under section 34 Localism Act 2011. The Council’s Standing Orders require a member or co-opted member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’ to withdraw from the meeting while any discussion or vote on any matter relating to it takes place.
  2. If an elected or co-opted member is aware of a ‘Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’ in a matter under consideration at a meeting but such interest is not already on the Council’s register of interests or in the process of entry onto the register having been already notified to the Monitoring Officer, the elected or co-opted member MUST disclose the ‘Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’ to the meeting and register it within 28 days of the meeting at which it is first disclosed.
  3. Where a matter arises at a meeting 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. The member must thereafter withdraw from the meeting while the matter is debated and voted upon.

Other Interests

  1. In accordance with the General Principles of Public Life enshrined within the Code of Conduct, (in particular the principles of Honesty and Openness) elected and co-opted members are required to declare at any meeting any personal interest (other than and in addition to any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest) (whether it be an interest in any land, contract, proposed contract, business, membership of any club or body that is considered to be relevant to any matters under discussion). The member will then wish to consider whether any person who was in full knowledge of the facts would consider that interest as likely to prejudice their judgement of the public interest, and if he/she so concludes, shall not take part in the discussion or vote on the matter. As per Water Orton Parish Council Standing Order 3.u.
  2. Whilst not obligated to do so, any member is able to request that their entry in the Register of Members of Interests be updated by the Monitoring Officer so as to include any interests that would not constitute a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.
  3. Members are advised to seek advice and clarification from the Monitoring Officer in cases of doubt.

Dispensations

  1. Any elected or co-opted member may request in writing to the Council’s proper officer by the start of the meeting to which the matter relates, to be granted a dispensation relieving them from the restriction of not participating in or voting on any matter in which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, or other interest, 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 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.

Approved 28th October 2020 Minute ref. 351

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