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Councillor complaints process

Consideration of complaints

Local authorities must have arrangements in place for dealing with complaints that councillors or co-opted members have breached the code of conduct. The main elements of these arrangements are that:

  • upon receipt of a complaint the Monitoring Officer will consult the Independent Person (or their reserve) and decide whether:
    • to take no action
    • the complaint merits investigation
    • to seek to resolve the matter without formal investigation
  • if the matter is referred for investigation the Monitoring Officer will appoint an investigator who will produce a report for the Monitoring Officer
  • if there is no evidence of a failure to comply with the code the matter will be closed
  • if there is evidence of a failure to comply with the code the Monitoring Officer will either:
    • seek to resolve the matter following consultation with the Independent Person; or
    • refer the matter for a hearing before a Code of Conduct Panel to reach a view as to whether there has been a breach of the code and if so, what sanctions to impose

View the full arrangements for dealing with councillor code of conduct complaints.

Code of Conduct Panels

Each Code of Conduct Panel is made up of 4 members of the Governance and Audit Committee, one of whom will be an independent co-opted member. The Independent Person (or their reserve) will be present at the hearing to advise the Panel.

View the hearing procedure.

Sanctions

The sanctions which may be imposed by a Code of Conduct Panel if there is found to be a breach of the code are:

  • to report its findings to council for inclusion on a council agenda
  • to issue a press release with its findings
  • to instruct the Monitoring Officer to arrange appropriate training
  • to require the councillor or co-opted member to issue a written apology to the complainant in an open letter
  • to recommend that the council issues a formal censure eg through a motion at a council meeting
  • to recommend to the relevant group leader (or in the case of ‘ungrouped’ councillors or co-opted members, to recommend to council or to committees) that the councillor or co-opted member is removed from any or all committees or sub-committees
  • to recommend to the Leader of the Council that the councillor is removed from the Executive, or removed from particular portfolio responsibilities
  • to recommend that the councillor is removed from any or all outside appointments to which he/she has been appointed or nominated by the Leader of the Council
  • to refer the matter to the party whip in order for the political group to consider whether to take action under its own procedures

The Code of Conduct Panel has no power to suspend or disqualify a councillor or co-opted member or to withdraw their allowance.

Outcome

The Code of Conduct Panel’s decision will be published on the council’s website and reported to the Governance and Audit Committee, which is responsible for the ethical conduct of borough and parish/town councillors and co-opted members within the borough.