The Code of Conduct – Observed more in the breach?

Reproduced below is the RMBC Code of Conduct for Members and Co-Opted Members. This can be downloaded here as a pdf file, for future reference, or to print your own copy:

ROTHERHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR MEMBERS AND CO-OPTED MEMBERS
PART 1
General Provisions
Introduction and interpretation
1. (1) This Code applies to you as a member of Rotherham Borough Council (“the Council”).
(2) It is your responsibility to comply with the provisions of this Code and uphold the seven principles of public life set out in Annex 1 to this Code.
(3) In this Code –
A “meeting of the Council” means any meeting of –
(a) the Council;
(b) the Cabinet, a committee of the Cabinet or a member of the Cabinet acting under delegated powers;
(c) the Council’s committees, sub-committees, joint committees, joint sub-committees, or area committees.
A “member” includes a co-opted member who is entitled to vote on any question that falls to be decided at any meeting that falls within paragraphs (a) – (c) above.
Scope
2. (1) Except when you are acting as a representative of the Council when sub-paragraph (2) applies, you must comply with this Code whenever you –
(a) conduct the business of the Council (which, in this Code, includes the business of the office to which you are elected or appointed); or
(b) act, claim to act or give the impression you are acting as a representative of the Council.
(2)
Where you act as a representative of the Council –
(a)
on any of the authorities which are under a duty to have a similar code of conduct to this Code, you must comply with that authority’s code of conduct when acting for that authority;
(b) on any organisation or body that is not obliged to have a code of conduct, you must comply with this Code except to the extent that this Code conflicts with any other lawful obligations to which that other organisation or body may be subject.
General obligations
3. (1) You must treat others with respect.
(2) You must not –
(a) do anything which may cause the Council to breach any of the equality duties;
(b) bully any person;
(c) do anything which compromises or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, the Council.
4. You must not –
(a) 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 –
(i) you have the consent of a person authorised to give it;
(ii) you are required by law to do so;
(iii) the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
(iv)
the disclosure is –
(aa) reasonable and in the public interest; and
(bb) made in good faith and in compliance with the reasonable requirements of the Council; or
(b) prevent another person from gaining access to information to which that person is entitled by law.
5. You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute.
6. You –
(a) must not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself, or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage; and
(b) must, when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of the Council –
(i) act in accordance with the Council’s reasonable requirements;
(ii) ensure that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes); and
(c) must have regard to any applicable Local Authority Code of Publicity made under the Local Government Act 1986.
7. (1) When reaching decisions on any matter you must have regard to any relevant advice provided to you by the Council’s –
(a) chief finance officer (the Strategic Director of Resources); or
(b) monitoring officer (the Director of Legal and Democratic Services),
where that officer is acting pursuant to his or her statutory duties.
(2) You must give reasons for all decisions in accordance with any statutory requirements and any reasonable additional requirements imposed by the Council.
PART 2
Interests
Personal interests
8. You have a personal interest in any business of the Council where either 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 –
(aa) exercising functions of a public nature;
(bb) directed to charitable purposes;
(cc) one of whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy (including any political party or trade union); or
(dd) which is a private club or society, such as the Freemasons, a recreational club, working men’s club or private investment club,
of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management;
(iii)
the interests of any person from whom you have received a gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £25; or
(iv)
a decision in relation to that business might reasonably be regarded as affecting the well-being or financial position of you or a member of your family or a close friend or someone with whom you have a close association to a greater extent than it would affect the majority of other council tax payers, ratepayers or inhabitants of your ward or electoral area.
Disclosable pecuniary interests
9 (1) You have a “disclosable pecuniary interest” in any business of the Council where it is a pecuniary interest of yours or a pecuniary interest of –
(a) your spouse or civil partner,
(b) a person with whom you are living as if husband and wife, or
(c) a person with whom you are living as if you are civil partners
and you are aware that that other person has the interest and the interest falls within the categories of pecuniary interests classed as disclosable pecuniary interests in regulations made by the Secretary of State from time to time under section 30 (3) of the Localism Act 2011.
(2)
The current disclosable pecuniary interests are listed in Annex 2 to this Code.
Notification of interests
10. You must notify the Council’s monitoring officer of any interest that is classed as a personal interest or a disclosable pecuniary interest –
(a) within 28 days of becoming a member or co-opted member of the Council;
(b) within 28 days of acquiring any interest or becoming aware of any such interest;
(c) within 28 days of any change to an interest that you have previously registered; or
(d) within 28 days of disclosing an interest at a meeting of the Council
Disclosure of interests
11. (1) Where you have a personal interest in any business of the Council and you attend a meeting of the Council at which the business is considered, you need only disclose the existence and nature of that interest to the meeting if –
(a) the interest is not already entered in your register of interests; or
(b) the interest is not one that you have already notified to the monitoring officer.
(2) Where you have a disclosable pecuniary interest in any business of the Council and you attend a meeting of the Council at which the business is considered, unless the interest is a sensitive interest (see sub-paragraph (3)), you must disclose the existence and nature of that interest and, unless you have been granted a dispensation (see sub-
paragraph (4)), you must not take part in the discussion or vote on that item and must withdraw from the meeting room, including the public gallery, before the item is considered by the meeting.
(3) You need not disclose the nature of any personal interest or disclosable pecuniary interest in an item of business where the Council’s monitoring officer considers that disclosure of the details of the interest (“a sensitive interest”) could lead to you or a person connected with you being subject to violence or intimidation.
(4) Sub-paragraph (2), does not apply where the monitoring officer or the Standards Committee, as the case may be, has granted a dispensation to enable you to take part in the discussion of, or vote on that item, or both.
Offences
12 You commit an offence if without reasonable excuse –
(a) you fail to notify the monitoring officer within 28 days of becoming a member of the Council of any disclosable personal interests that you have;
(b) you fail to disclose at a meeting of the Council the nature and extent of a disclosable pecuniary interest that you have, and are aware of having, in an item of business that is being considered at the meeting, unless –
(i) the interest is a sensitive interest and paragraph 11 (3) applies;
(ii) the interest is entered in the Register of Members’ Interests maintained by the monitoring officer; or
(iii) the monitoring officer has been notified that you have such an interest but the register has not yet been updated (“a pending notification”);
(c) you fail to notify the monitoring officer of a disclosable pecuniary interest that you have disclosed at a meeting of the Council, or where you are a member of the Cabinet at your delegated powers meeting, as the case may be, within 28 days of the date on which you made the disclosure;
(d) you participate in any discussion of, or vote on, any item of business at a meeting of the Council in which you have a disclosable pecuniary interest of which you are aware, unless you have been granted a dispensation in accordance with paragraph 11 (4), or
(e) you have a disclosable pecuniary interest of which you are aware in any item of business to be dealt with, or being dealt with, by you as a member of the Cabinet acting under delegated powers and despite having that interest continue to deal with that item of business, except where such dealing is for the purpose of arranging for the item to be dealt with otherwise than by you.
ANNEX 1
The Seven Principles of Public Life
Selflessness
1. 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 benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
Integrity
2.
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
3.
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
4. 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
5. 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
6. 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
7. Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
ANNEX 2
DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS
In accordance with Section 30(3) of the Localism Act 2011 a pecuniary interest is a “disclosable pecuniary interest” in relation to a member, if it is of a description specified below and either

is an interest of the member, or

is an interest of:-
the member’s spouse or civil partner
a person with whom the member is living as husband and wife, or
a person with whom the member is living as if they were civil partners,
and the member is aware that the other person has the interest.
However it should be noted that the disclosure of sponsorship is only in relation to the sponsorship of the member and not in relation to a spouse or civil partner.
In the Table below –
“body in which you have 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;
“relevant period” means the period of 12 months ending with the day on which M gives notification of a disclosable pecuniary interest;
“relevant person” means you (as a member) or your spouse or civil partner; a person with whom you are living as husband and wife; or a person with whom you are living as if you 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.
DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS
Subject
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 Council) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by the member in carrying out duties as a member, or towards the election expenses of the member. This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992(a).
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 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 relevant Council.
Licenses
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 the member’s knowledge) –
(a) the landlord is the Council; 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 relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

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28 thoughts on “The Code of Conduct – Observed more in the breach?

  1. This Code of Conduct will only be a joke if the persons of the Standards Committee allow it. If the right decisions are made, then the Standards Committee will shine above all, and be seen as paragons of virtue, setting an example to all others. The Complaints regarding “Two Councillors” at Anston, are being watched with much interest.
    lets wait and see.

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  2. I fail to see how the standards committee can work when the likes of Dominic Beck are sat there handing down pearls of wisdom that they themselves take no notice of. The only true and democratic method has to be a group of individuals who have no party allegiance having nothing what so ever to do with the council. They would not be paid by the council, as is the case with borough councillors who sit on the committee. While ever M.P.s and councillors police themselves decide how much they pay themselves then true democracy will never be served. I fail to see how it can be possible to do this in any other way.

    Dave Smith

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    • Dave, I am in total agreement with what you say.
      As the recent “Fourteenth Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life” puts it:
      ( http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Standards_Matter.pdf)

      “We are in no doubt that as a result standards of behaviour in many areas of public life have improved. But it is disturbing that concerns continue to be raised about the integrity of so many of our key institutions or those within them; and the evidence of the last few years and months suggests that there is still much to do before the high standards in public life to which we all aspire are fully internalised in the cultures of all our
      public institutions. ”

      … and later…
      “Independent external scrutiny.
      Prime responsibility for upholding high standards should always rest first with the individual and then with the organisation. However, history shows self-regulation often to be ineffective without some form of external involvement. It is essential that someone is able to hold up a mirror to those in public office to remind them of the standards to which they should aspire.
      An important part of this scrutiny can come from the media. But press scrutiny can be superficial, incomplete or undertaken in the service of particular interests or agendas. It is inevitably often retrospective and better at revealing problems than making careful judgements or pointing to a constructive way forward. Self-regulation needs therefore to be reinforced in other ways – by peer review or by a specifically appointed regulator. Such regulators need to be established with care and remain forward-looking, focused on their core purpose and not over-burdensome. They also need to be given adequate powers, independence and recognition for their efforts; and there needs to be clarity
      and widespread agreement about their role, functions and resources if they are to avoid being drawn into political controversy ”

      We are all in RothPol’s debt; when and where the traditional media has been found wanting, he has stepped up.

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  3. I recently went to see one of our councillors, Councillor Foden at his surgery. I particulary wanted to see him but he wasn’t there, but Ahktar was. I said to him is Councillor Foden here tonight. He replied,” why won’t I do am I the wrong skin colour!” This was a gratuitous, racist slur, but as I had no witnesses I had to let it go. If I had a witness he would have found himself in front of the Standards Board again! If you ever have to speak to this lying, unprincipled rogue please be on your guard. My advice is make sure you record the conversation!

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    • …. had you had previous encounters with Councillor Ahktar that might explain his apparent assumption of your unwillingness to discuss matters with someone who wasn’t White British?

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      • What Ahktar didn’t know was that we had, had the Area Asembly meeting in our Community Centre a few days before (which he did not atend) where I had raised several issues with Councillor Foden and that was why I wanted to see him in particular! But Ahktar made a racist asumption he was not entitled to make. As every one who knows him knows he is a prolific race card player! But he certainly appears unaware of the code of conduct that councillors are required to adhere tonamely treating “all” members of the public with respect!

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  4. Can someone check whether the young Dom is on RMBC Standard Board? According to their diary he isn’t. He might be on Anston Parish Council Standards Committee though but these are two very different things. Let’s not elevate him more than necessary.

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  5. I will be making sure all councillors comply with; 3. (1) You must treat others with respect
    (Dominic Beck feel at the first hurdle…………….) -.and-
    Annexe 1.(3) 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.
    Did I read somewhere that RMBC has been in discussions with Taylor Wimpey before any building work on land designated under the CDP has been agreed?
    Annexe 1. Paras 4 & 5 means councillors must justify any decisions that affects any of us in any way.
    Tomorrow evening should be fun.

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  6. I made a complaint under the last Council Code of Practice. (Yes it was fiddling – by Department Heads not Councillors – and I have the written proof). What a waste of space RMBC Executives and Senior Management are. The Executives, Directors and HR and investigators (which included the people I had complained about) simply used avoidance, semantics and actually ignoring the agreements re what should be done as a tactic to deny any real investigation.. Letters and questions went unanswered. Promised actions were not actioned. I was talked over or ignored when I pointed out shortfalls. Minutes regarding what was discussed were not provided (I have my own which can be validated bu witnesses). Promises made were later denied. RMBC stopped responding despite the process not being closed until I prompted them. A third independent investigator was denied. (RMBC provided their own – how impartial). I was denied the requested access to the report (if it actually exists) of the findings and given simple ‘none’ replies that didn’t address the issues in the hope I’d go away. Almost two years on I’m still hanging on in their despite RMBC thinking this little working class and powerless lady will go away quietly;as if.

    RMBC’s claim to be open and transparent is a joke; well it would be if their secrecy and bullying of those that raise issues wasn’t so disgraceful. The way the Unelected Officials and HR closed ranks to not only deny justice, but also disparage and bully those that ask what they see as embarrassing questions is not only is undemocratic, but defies logic and their claim to be an open council.

    While I have many issues with certain elected officials (not all) I feel the real abuse of power often lies within the confines of ‘The Riverside Towers’. There do prowl the unelected and unaccountable men and women in grey that not only deny you and I information and access to justice, but also the elected officials. (Yes I know some comply in cover ups but most are kept in the dark). It is time the Riverside Mafia y were taken under control and made to account for their self centred actions. I will play my part in that process.

    Sadly I can not detail the full complaint or the actions i need to take as I write. However, I will keep you informed when the time arrives about the full details. I hope you understand that at present I am taking legal advice regarding where to report RMBC’s failure to: A) follow the guidelines detailed in their own policy B) investigate their own role in the great fiddle. C) Discipline those named in the complaint. D) Appointment a third independent party to investigate as requested. E) Use every trick i the book to avoid any real investigation at all. Once I have received this legal advice and taken further action I will go public giving full details.

    If those involved in the fiddle (And they know who they are) are reading please take note; you can fiddle while Rotherham burns but the back draft and flames will burn you in the end. As Debbie Harry once sang, “One day I’m going to get ya.” And as my dear old Dad used to say to dishonest officialdom: “One day, no matter how you try to twist and turn and avoid your sins you will wake up to find you’ve been caught out. And at that moment, either the long arm of the law, your conscience, or both, will tell you – it was far easier being honest in the first place – so why weren’t you.”

    Hugs and Kisses. XXXXXXXX

    See I am a nice girl usually.

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  7. I think it needs to be simplified a little. Even the bible can be summarised down to 10 commandments. To me there is only one rule, try and treat others how you would like to be treated, which can be difficult for all of us at times, being human.

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  8. Oops !

    Edit :

    “Can someone check whether the young Dom is on RMBC Standard Board? ”

    Councillor Dominic Beck

    Committee appointments

    Cabinet Member for Communities and Cohesion
    Council Meeting
    Health and Wellbeing Board
    Health Select Commission
    Licensing Board
    Self Regulation Select Commission
    Standards Committee

    Term of office

    04/05/2011 –
    Appointments to outside bodies

    Rotherham and District Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)
    Unity Centre Steering Group
    Wales Educational Foundation

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  9. Dear anne(@anteggs49)
    Anston parish Council does not have its own Standards Committee. This has been part of the problem, whenever a member of the Public (or cllrs for that matter) makes a complaint, the answer from the Chair is “go to the Standards Committee” Some Parish Councils decided to adopt their own Code of Conduct, but how impartial is that. Anston has adopted the RMBC code of Conduct, and therfore any complaints regarding Cllrs should be made to Monitering Officer at RMBC.

    Like

    • Dear S Thornton
      A Parish Council is obliged to have a Complaints Proceedure of their own. Parishioner’s and parish council staff should be able to access this proceedure. It has nothing to do with the RMBC’s Standard Board.
      Only the conduct of Councillors can be referred to the Standards Board which is administered by RMBC now. Any parishioner can complain directly to them with regard to the conduct of any Councillor – Parish or Borough. It used to be administered by ‘The Standards Board for England’ whose functions was devolved to Borough Councils a couple of years ago.

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  10. Pingback: The Code of Conduct and Complaints Procedure | maltbyblogger

  11. A slight misunderstanding, Anston Parish does have a complaints procedure, it is the NLCA complaint procedure. However this complaint procedure is for complaints that refer to Administration and Employees, not Cllrs. I should have made it more clear that I was refering to complaints against Cllrs. I tested this procedure some years ago at Anston, what a farce, the only part of my complaint that was investigated (by the Vice- Chair Cllr Dalton) was events “after” the incedent. No surprise that the persons involved had no case to answer.

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