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How can PC standards of conduct be improved?

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This question links into a previous thread:  More oversight of parish councils needed? - Councillor Q&A (towncouncillor.com).  It is also an opportunity to raise awareness that the Committee on Standards in Public Life is currently seeking views, "as part of its review into the institutions, processes and structures in place to support high standards of conduct".  The consultation closes at 5pm on 29th January 2021.  Anyone with an interest in public standards may make a submission.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/standards-matter-2-public-consultation-and-public-sector-survey

asked by (720 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
After a quick perusal of the "consultation" documents it may be well meaning box ticking but already taking a beurocratic nightmare route to include everyone and everybody in public service.

Parish councils are probably the nearest we have in this nation to true democracy but sadly lacking in accountability. If you are going to set out rules and regulations you need to follow very simple rules. Firstly decide what the requirements seek to achieve, secondly ensure a robust system of impartially judging whether those requirements are met and thirdly setting a proportional consequence to those not achieving the requirements. The difficulty with Parish Councils is that they deal with elected members who can only be held accountable at election time. How about it was made that anyone reaching an unacceptable level of behaviour to immediately be required to stand for re- election immediately and face the electorate without having to wait insitu for X years. That might sharpen up some peoples perception of their invincibility in falling short of professional standards and failing to their communities
answered by (6.3k points)
Yes, but... Define unacceptable behaviour. Often those whose behaviour we wish to challenge are the champions of their communities, who would be re-elected every time. And, who is going to pay for all of these elections?
After 10 years on the frontline I can’t see any solution
To me the Parishioners should keep their Parish Councils in check but as we know the vast majority couldn’t care less and even less want to stand
It would be interesting to see how many vacant parish council seats there are and how many Councillors are actually elected by ballot rather than none contested election or by cooption
We have three tiers of local government the city adjacent to us has one tier and on the face of it their facilities are far better
The local large town in my Borough has a town council formed from the Borough Councillors for the Wards in that town
Because of this it’s supervised by the Borough Democratic Services team and it appears to run quite well
There’s pressure to devolve more services to Parishes but maybe it should be the other way round ?
There are 33 seats in my parishes and we currently have one person who won a contested election, 13 who were elected unopposed, 15 co-opted and 4 vacancies. The last elections took place in May 2019, so 19 months ago. My one publicly-elected councillor may fall foul of the six month rule shortly, as she seems to have given up. Democracy in action!
We have 13 seats in our parish, and have no councillors who won a contested election.  We have 4 who were elected unopposed in May 2019, 2 co-opted in 2019, 5 co-opted in 2020,  and 2 vacancies.  We were due to have an election on 26 March 2020, to fill the remaining 2 vacancies, but it was cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.  Our district council has decided that it will be re-scheduled for May 2021, even though there were only 2 candidates for 2 seats.  Very frustrating for the electorate!
If they were elected unopposed that means they were still “elected” I think you need to look back at any history, has there ever been four yearly election in your parish that went through to an actual election. There are many keyboard warriors that say the right words but never put their names forward when the time comes,  there are also many councillors that join because of their own agenda. There are very few parishes with potential councillors that realise the true role and /or the time involved when they volunteer. This means it goes two ways, high turnover and / or communities missing out because available funds are not used to their full potential.

I have seen so may councils lose  funding and then when they get themselves together fail to gain grants because of a previously lethargic history.
Sienna - your district council is taking an unusual stance on the coronavirus regulations. Section 59 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 states:

"59 Elections and referendums due to be held in England in period after 15 March 2020
(1) This section applies to the poll for a relevant election or relevant referendum if the poll--
(a) is required to be held on a day falling within the period beginning with 16 March 2020 and ending with the day 30 days after that on which this Act is passed, but
(b) is not held in that period."

This is further explained in paragraph 6 of Part 2 of the The Local Government and Police and Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020

"By-elections of parish councillors
6. (1) The poll for the election of a councillor to fill a casual vacancy in the office of parish councillor that, pursuant to rule 5(3) of the Local Elections (Parishes and Communities) (England and Wales) Rules 2006 (filling of casual vacancies) (“the 2006 Rules”), would otherwise be held, or have been held, on a day during the relevant period is to be held instead on the ordinary day of election in 2021."

The legal definition of Poll is a public election, but this would not be required if the process for nomination of candidates had been completed in accordance with the regulations before 15 March and there were only two candidates for two vacancies. The candidates should have been deemed elected. I suggest that you ask your district council to reconsider, based on the above evidence.
Thank you for your comprehensive reply DtC.  It is very much appreciated.  I will approach the district council, as you suggest.

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