The Local Code of Governance has been developed from a framework document produced by CIPFA (in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and SOLACE, but the content is very much the Council’s own. The six sections of the Code define how the Council complies with the six principles of good governance laid down by the independent commission on good governance in public services. These are:
vision, forward planning and performance,
roles and responsibilities of members and officers,
standards of conduct,
scrutiny and risk management,
engaging with local people and stakeholders.
Gateshead Council, like every other local authority, operates through a governance framework which brings together an underlying set of legislative of requirements, governance principles and management processes. Over the last few years, the Council has put considerable effort into codifying its principles and processes. Perhaps the clearest manifestation of this is the Council’s constitution, published for the first time in May 2002 and reviewed annually thereafter. No less effort has gone into the development of protocols for the Council’s internal procedures and for working with partners; processes for ensuring financial probity and managing risks; and code of ethical behaviour for elected members and employees. These developments have covered partnership work and the engagement of citizens as well as the conduct of the Council’s own business.
The Local Code of Governance brings all these practices together into one document and makes them open and explicit. It identifies areas where further action is required to meet changing circumstances (for example the introduction of the Local Government Bill) and/or to ensure that we are following best practice in all aspects of governance.
The Code will be reviewed annually and will support the Annual Governance Statement that the Council is required to approve.
The Council could not have achieved its success in regenerating the Borough and providing high quality services without a bedrock of sound governance and the commitment of members and officers to maintaining those standards. We hope that, by making explicit the underlying principles and processes, the Code will assist members and officers to sustain high standards in the future.