Agenda item

To agree Tendring District Council’s formal response to the Local Government Association’s Model Member Code of Conduct consultation.


There was submitted a report (A.1) by the Monitoring Officer which sought the Committee’s agreement to this Council’s formal response to the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Model Member Code of Conduct consultation.


The Committee was informed that the LGA had launched its consultation on a draft Model Member Code that could be a template for councils to adopt in whole and/or in part with local amendments.  The LGA Consultation document incorporating the draft Model Code of Conduct was attached as Appendix A to the Monitoring Officer’s report for Members’ consideration.


The Committee was aware that all Councils were required to have a local Member Code of Conduct and that Tendring District Council’s Members’ Code had been last reviewed and adopted by Full Council in 2018. The Code of Conduct was attached as Appendix B to the Monitoring Officer’s report for Members’ reference.


It was reported that the LGA draft Model Member Code of Conduct had been developed in consultation with the local government sector and that the LGA had committed to undertake an annual review of the Model Code in order to ensure it continued to be fit for purpose, particularly with respect to advances in technology, social media and any relevant changes in legislation.


Members were made aware that the draft Model Code covered its purpose and application, referred to the seven Principles of Public life, expressly stated what model member conduct as a councillor was expected and set out the minimum requirements through some specific obligations of general conduct.  Under each of the specific obligations the LGA had a created additional guidance.


Members were also made aware that, in responding to the consultation, the LGA was asking a number of questions via an online form, however they had produced an information document setting out those questions for responders to consider in advance. That information document was attached as Appendix C to the report. 


The Committee was advised that any individual whether an elected Member, Independent Person or Officer could respond to the consultation in their own right.  The purpose of the report before it was to establish whether an agreed formal response could be submitted on behalf of Tendring District Council.  Therefore Members of the Standards Committee were requested to give consideration to the questions set out in the aforementioned Appendix C. 


The Committee was further advised that responding to the consultation would not commit this Council to adopting the Model Member Code of Conduct, in full or in part.  The Monitoring Officer suggested that the Standards Committee would wish to consider each aspect, in detail, against a review of its existing Members’ Code of Conduct, which could be undertaken later in the year as part of its work programme once the final version of the LGA Model Code was launched.


The Monitoring Officer sought the Committee’s views, in particular, in respect of the following questions and matters:-




Views expressed by the Committee (including the Independent Persons)


The length, quality, clarity etc. of the LGS Model Member Code of Conduct

Consensus was that the Model Code was of good quality and, in particular, positive comments were expressed about its clarity.


Should the requested Councillor commitment to “Civility” towards others be amended to be a commitment to “Respect” towards others?


The majority view expressed was that the reference to “Civility” was acceptable.

Question 3: Do you prefer the use of the personal tense, as used in the Code, or would you prefer the passive tense?


The consensus was that the Committee would prefer “I will” or “Councillors will” rather than “Councillors should” as this implies definite, positive action will be taken rather than a perception of an indefinite may or may not take this action approach.


Question 8: To what extent do you think the concept of ‘bringing the council into disrepute’ is sufficiently clear?


The consensus of the Committee was that they would like to a widening within the Model Code of this concept. At the moment it is too narrowly focused on behaviour that is considered dishonest and/or deceitful.


Question 15: The draft code proposes £25 as the threshold for registering gifts and hospitality, is this an appropriate threshold?


The Committee Members and IPs were split in their views between supporting the LGA’s suggested £25 threshold or maintaining the £50 threshold included within TDC’s current Code of Conduct.


Question 16: The LGA will be producing accompanying guidance to the code. Which of the following types of guidance would you find most useful? Please rank 1 – 5, with 1 being the most useful.


-       Regularly updated examples of case law

-       Explanatory guidance on the code

-       Case studies and examples of good practice

-       Supplementary guidance that focuses on specific areas, e.g. social media

-       Improvement support materials, such as training and e-learning packages


The consensus of the Committee was that they were all very useful and of equal importance.


It was moved by Councillor Steady, seconded by Councillor Wiggins and:-


RESOLVED that the Monitoring Officer be authorised, on behalf of Tendring District Council, to submit the agreed response to the Local Government Association’s Model Member Code of Conduct consultation, following a further consultation with the Members of the Committee and the Independent Persons on the contents of that proposed response.

Supporting documents: