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Constitution - Part 4B - Members` Code of Conduct and guidance

 

 

This part of the Constitution relates to both members and co-opted members of the County Council.

Part 6F 'Code of Good Practice for Members and Officers involved in the Planning to Process' of this Constitution, supplements this Members' Code of Conduct.

Cumbria County Council ("The County Council") has adopted the following Members' Code of Conduct ('the Code') dealing with the conduct that is expected of members and co-opted members of the County Council ("members") when they are acting in that capacity as required by section 27 of the Localism Act 2011 ("the Act").

The County Council has a statutory duty under the Act to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and the code sets out the standards that the County Council expects members to observe.

The Code is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the obligations that are placed on members.  It is the responsibility of individual members to comply with the provisions of the Code as well as such other legal obligations as may apply to them from time to time. Failure to do so may result in a sanction being applied by the County Council.  Failure to take appropriate action in respect of a disclosable pecuniary interest may result in a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £ 5,000 and/or disqualification from office for a period of up to 5 years. 

The Code is intended to be consistent with the seven principles as attached to this Code at Appendix C and applies whenever a person is acting in his/her capacity as a member of the County Council or co-opted member in the conduct of the County Council's business or acting as a representative of the County Council.

N.B. Please also see the Guidance to this code (PDF 284kb) and declaring interests flowchart (PDF 14kb).

1.1 You must act solely in the public interest and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person or act to gain financial or other material benefits for yourself, your family, a friend, a close associate, an employer or a business carried on by you.

1.2 You must not place yourself under a financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that may influence you in the performance of your duties.

1.3 You must not disclose any information given to you as a member in breach of any confidence.

1.4 You must not bring your office or the County Council into disrepute.

1.5 You must treat others with respect and must promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their sex, race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

1.6 You must respect the impartiality and integrity of the County Council's statutory officers and its other employees.

1.7 When carrying out your public duties you must make all choices, such as making public appointments, awarding contracts or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits on merit.

1.8 You are accountable for your decisions to the public and you must co-operate fully with whatever scrutiny is appropriate to your office.

1.9 You must be as open as possible about your decisions and actions and the decisions and actions of the County Council and should be prepared to give reasons for those decisions and actions.

1.10 You must only use the resources of the County Council in accordance with its requirements. In particular you must ensure, when using or authorising the use by others of the resources of the County  Council that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes) and you must have regard to any applicable Local Authority Code of Publicity made under the Local Government Act 1986.

1.11 You must promote and support high standards of conduct when serving in your office.

2.1 You must, within 28 days of taking office as a member or co-opted member, register with the Monitoring Officer the interests which fall within the categories set out in Appendix A Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Appendix B Other Registrable Interests.

2.2 You must, within 28 days of becoming aware of it, register with the Monitoring Officer any change to interests or new interests which fall within the categories set out in Appendices A and B.

3.1 Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to an interest in Appendix A Disclosable Pecuniary Interests you must declare the existence and nature of the interest even where it has been entered in the County Council's register of interests, unless the matter is a 'sensitive interest' as described by the Localism Act 2011. Unless a dispensation has been granted, you must then leave the meeting room and may not participate in any discussion, vote on, or discharge any function related to the matter. Where the matter is a 'sensitive interest' you do not need to declare the nature of the interest but must still withdraw from the meeting without participating.

3.2 Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to or affects an interest in Appendix B Other Registrable Interests you must declare the existence and nature of the interest unless it has been entered in the County Council's register of interests. 

3.3 Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to or affects a financial interest of you, a friend, relative or close associate (and it is not a disclosable pecuniary interest or other registrable interest) you must declare the existence and nature of the interest.  Where the matter is a 'sensitive interest' you do not need to declare the nature of the interest.

3.4 Where the matter relates to or affects the interest under paragraph 3.3 above more than the majority of people in the area affected by the decision and a reasonable member of the public would think your view of the public interest would be so adversely affected, you must then leave the meeting room and may not vote on, or discharge any function related to the matter unless a dispensation has been granted. You may speak on the matter only if members of the public are also allowed to speak at the meeting.  Where the matter is a 'sensitive interest' you do not need to declare the nature of the interest.

A pecuniary interest is a "disclosable pecuniary interest" in relation to a member ("M") if it is of a description specified in this appendix and either:

(a) It is an interest of M's, or

(b) It is an interest of:

(i)  M's spouse or civil partner, or
(ii)  a person with whom M is living as husband and wife, or
(iii)  a person with whom M is living as if they were civil partners,

And M is aware that that other person has the interest.

Each category of person referred to above is described as the 'relevant person'.

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate in respect of any matter in which a member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.

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

InterestPrescribed description
Employment, office, trade,
profession or vocation
Any employment, office, trade, profession or
vocation carried on for profit or gain.
SponsorshipAny 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.

LandAny beneficial interest in land which is within
the area of the relevant authority.
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 M's knowledge) has a place of
business or land in the area of the relevant
authority; 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.

 

For this purpose:

"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 a member of a relevant authority;

"member" includes a co-opted member;

"relevant authority" means the authority 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) or 31(7), as the case may be, of the Act;

"relevant person" means M or any other person referred to in section 30(3)(b) of the Act;

"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.

Other registrable interests are:

(a) 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 authority.

(b) Any body of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management and which:

  (i) Exercises functions of a public nature; or
  (ii) Is directed to charitable purposes; or
  (iii) Is a body which includes as one of its principal purposes influencing public opinion or policy (this includes political     parties or trade unions).

(c) Any person from whom you have received a gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £ 100 (you must register any gifts and hospitality worth over £ 100 that you receive personally in  connection with your official duties).

The principles of public life apply to anyone who is elected or works as a public office-holder. All public office-holders are both servants of the public and stewards of public services. The principles are:
 
Selflessness  
Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

Integrity  
Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work.

They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

Objectivity  
Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
 
Accountability  
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

Openness  
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
 
Honesty  
Holders of public office should be truthful.
 
Leadership  
Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.