Is this a breach of the Code of Conduct?

0 votes

At a recent meeting the chairman roundly criticised a finance report produced by the acting clerk / RFO, despite both being involved for weeks beforehand in trying to reconcile the previous clerks cash book with the accounts. Subsequent minutes read:

" Cllr D raised queries about the accuracy of some items in the report presented by Cllr T who was acting as Clerk. Cllr T felt that these queries should not be aired in public but should be dealt with outside the meeting. Cllr R expressed the opinion that it was difficult to square this sentiment with conducting parish business in public and it was better to do it as a group  .  .  ."  Subsequent investigations  proved that the report was accurate with the exception of one minor point.

It has been standard practice in the past to have informal discussions between meetings to plan agendas and to sort out procedural issues, one of which was to sign the chairman's acceptance of office in July after being elected in May.

Does this action of publicly criticising the work of a named clerk / councillor constitute a breach of the NALC Code of Conduct?

asked by (1.2k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
This depends very much on the details of the situation. I wouldn't think that the mere fact of criticising someone would be a breach of the code. However, it is common sense that people should be judicious in the way they raise criticisms, simply because clumsily handled it is liable to be hurtful and counterproductive.

Unreasonable or intemperate criticism could become harrassment. In that case, it would very likely amount to a breach of the code. It could also run legal risks in relation to slander or, in some circumstances, breaches of anti-discrimination legislation. It might also give rise to a claim through an Industrial Tribunal, which is to be avoided so far as possible.

Pushing for transparency in public affairs is certainly a good thing and to be encouraged. It does, though, have to be balanced against the requirement that good employee relations need an appropriate level of confidentiality. And this should apply equally to councillors acting as volunteer council officers.
answered by (26.8k points)
0 votes

Probably not. Most Town/Parish Councils use a model code of conduct that is pretty woolly.  You would have to convince the Principal Authority Monitoring officer that one of the items below had been breached or someone had  failed to make an entry in the Registration members interests or revealed sensitive information.

 

The general principles governing councillors conduct under the Relevant Authorities (General Principles) Order 2001 are set out below:

1  Selflessness

Members should serve only the public interest and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.

2  Honesty and Integrity

Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

3  Objectivity

Members should make decisions on merit, including when making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits.

4  Accountability

Members should be accountable to the public for their actions and the manner in which they carry out their responsibilities, and should co-operate fully and honestly with any scrutiny appropriate to their particular office.

5  Openness

Members should be as open as possible about their actions and those of their authority, and should be prepared to give reasons for those actions.

6  Personal Judgement

Members may take account of the views of others, including their political groups, but should reach their own conclusions on the issues before them and act in accordance with those conclusions.

7  Respect for Others

Members should promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. They should respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory officers, and its other employees.

8  Duty to Uphold the Law

Members should uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in them.

9  Stewardship

Members should do whatever they are able to do to ensure that their authorities use their resources prudently and in accordance with the law.

10  Leadership

Members should promote and support these principles by leadership, and by example, and should act in a way that secures or preserves public confidence.

answered by (5.2k points)

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