- This Code has been adopted by Neasham Parish Council in compliance with the requirements set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011. This Code defines the standards of conduct which will be required of all Members and co-opted Members of the Council.
- This Code of Conduct is based on the Local Government Association (LGA) Model Councillor Code of Conduct, which was developed in 2020.
- In addition to the Code of Conduct, the Council has adopted the seven Principles of Public Life (the Nolan Principles) and 9 principles of conduct developed by the LGA for members. Members will be expected to act in a manner that is consistent with the principles and the principles will be used to help in interpreting the Code. It is however only the Code of Conduct that is enforceable, rather than the Principles of Conduct. More information is set out below under the heading of General Principles.
- Any person may make a written complaint to the Monitoring Officer of Darlington Borough Council that a Member or Co-opted Member of the Parish Council has broken the Code. Details about how to complain and the way that complaints are dealt can be found on Darlington Borough Council’s website https://www.darlington.gov.uk/media/3428/arrangements-for-dealing-with-members-complaints.pdf
- It is the personal responsibility of each Member and Co-opted Member to make sure that she/he complies with the requirements of this Code. Advice on the requirements may be sought from the Clerk, or a personal legal adviser. However, ultimately it is a decision for the Member or Co-opted Member.
- In this Code, words denoting any gender shall include all genders.
- This Code shall be subject to any subsequent changes of law after adoption
Purpose of the Code of Conduct
The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to assist you, as a councillor, in modelling the behaviour that is expected of you, to provide a personal check and balance, and to set out the type of conduct that could lead to action being taken against you. It is also to protect you, the public, fellow councillors, local authority officers and the reputation of local government. It sets out general principles of conduct expected of all councillors and your specific obligations in relation to standards of conduct. The use of support, training and mediation prior to action being taken using the Code is encouraged. The fundamental aim of the Code is to create and maintain public confidence in the role of councillor and local government.
General principles of councillor conduct
Everyone in public office at all levels; all who serve the public or deliver public services, including ministers, civil servants, councillors and local authority officers; should uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life, also known as the Nolan Principles. These are published separately on Neasham Parish Council’s web-site.
Building on these principles, the following general principles have been developed specifically for the role of councillor.
In accordance with the public trust placed in me, on all occasions:
- I act with integrity and honesty;
- I act lawfully;
- I treat all persons fairly and with respect; and
- I lead by example and act in a way that secures public confidence in the role of councillor.
In undertaking my role:
- I impartially exercise my responsibilities in the interests of the local community;
- I do not improperly seek to confer an advantage, or disadvantage, on any person;
- I avoid conflicts of interest;
- I exercise reasonable care and diligence; and
- I ensure that public resources are used prudently in accordance with my parish council’s requirements and in the public interest.
These principles will be used to help in better understanding and interpreting the Code. However only the specific provisions of conduct set out below are enforceable and not the principles themselves.
Application of the Code of Conduct
This Code of Conduct applies to you as soon as you sign your declaration of acceptance of the office of councillor or attend your first meeting as a co-opted member and continues to apply to you until you cease to be a councillor.
This Code of Conduct applies to you when you are acting in your capacity as a councillor which may include when:
- You misuse your position as a councillor;
- Your actions would give the impression to a reasonable member of the public with knowledge of all the facts that you are acting as a councillor;
The Code applies to all forms of communication and interaction, including:
- At face-to-face meetings;
- At online or telephone meetings;
- In written communication;
- In verbal communication;
- In non-verbal communication;
- In electronic and social media communication, posts, statements and comments.
You are also expected to uphold high standards of conduct and show leadership at all times when acting as a councillor.
Support and advice
Parish councillors are encouraged to seek advice from your Clerk, who may refer matters to the Monitoring Officer of Darlington Borough Council.
Standards of councillor conduct
This section sets out your obligations, which are the minimum standards of conduct required of you as a councillor. Should your conduct fall short of these standards, a complaint may be made against you, which may result in action being taken. Paragraphs numbered 1 – 8 below deal with general conduct, and those numbered 9 and 10 deal with protecting your reputation and that of the Parish Council
A Note entitled “Guidance on General Conduct” is published separately by Neasham Parish Council and is available on request. This sets out LGA guidance explaining the reasons for the obligations and how they should be followed, and may be updated periodically.
As a councillor:
- I treat other councillors and members of the public with respect.
- I treat parish council employees, employees and representatives of partner organisations and those volunteering for the parish council with respect and respect the role they play.
2. Bullying, harassment and discrimination
As a councillor:
- I do not bully any person.
- I do not harass any person.
- I promote equalities and do not discriminate unlawfully against any person.
3. Impartiality of officers of the council
As a councillor I do not compromise, or attempt to compromise, the impartiality of anyone who works for, or on behalf of, the parish council.
4. Confidentiality and access to information
As a councillor I do not disclose information given to me in confidence by anyone or acquired by me which I believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature, unless:
- I have received the consent of a person authorised to give it;
- I am required by law to do so;
- the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional legal advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
- the disclosure is reasonable and in the public interest; and made in good faith and in compliance with the reasonable requirements of the parish council and I have consulted the Monitoring Officer prior to its release.
As a councillor I do not improperly use knowledge gained solely as a result of my role as a councillor for the advancement of myself, my friends, my family members, my employer or my business interests.
As a councillor I do not prevent anyone from getting information that they are entitled to by law.
As a councillor I do not bring my role or parish council into disrepute.
6. Use of position
As a councillor I do not use, or attempt to use, my position improperly to the advantage or disadvantage of myself or anyone else.
7. Use of parish council resources and facilities
As a councillor:
- I do not misuse council resources.
- I will, when using the resources of the parish council or authorising their use by others, act in accordance with the parish council's requirements; and ensure that such resources are not used for political purposes unless that use could reasonably be regarded as likely to facilitate, or be conducive to, the discharge of the functions of the parish council or of the office to which I have been elected or appointed.
8. Complying with the Code of Conduct
As a Councillor:
- I undertake Code of Conduct training provided by my local authority.
- I cooperate with any Code of Conduct investigation and/or determination.
- I do not intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is likely to be a complainant, witness or involved with the administration of any investigation or proceedings.
- I comply with any sanction imposed on me following a finding that I have breached the Code of Conduct.
Protecting your reputation and the reputation of the parish council
As a Councillor I register and disclose my interests.
You should note that failure to register or disclose a disclosable pecuniary interest as required by the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 is a criminal offence under the Localism Act 2011. A Note: “Guidance on Registering Interests” is available from Neasham Parish Council on request.
10. Gifts and hospitality
As a councillor:
- I do not accept gifts or hospitality, irrespective of estimated value, which could give rise to real or substantive personal gain or a reasonable suspicion of influence on my part to show favour from persons seeking to acquire, develop or do business with the parish council or from persons who may apply to the parish council for any permission, licence or other significant advantage.
- I register with the Monitoring Officer any gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £50 within 28 days of its receipt.
- I register with the Monitoring Officer any significant gift or hospitality that I have been offered but have refused to accept.
This Code of Conduct was approved by Neasham Parish Council on 1 March 2022