The following is a summary of the arrangements put in place by Gateshead Council to:
- Promote and maintain high standards by councillors and co-opted members of the Authority; and
- Deal with complaints of breaches of the Councillors' Code of Conduct.
1. Code of Conduct
The Council has adopted a code of conduct (“the Code”)
2. Audit and Standards Committee
The Council's Audit and Standards Committee has delegated powers as set out in the Council’s constitution. The Committee comprises:
- 7 elected members of the Council
- 1 non-voting Lamesley parish councillor
- 3 non-voting independent members.
3. Independent persons
The Council has appointed an independent person who;
- Must be consulted by the Monitoring Officer when considering investigating a complaint, and
- May be consulted by a councillor (or co-opted member) who is under investigation, and
- May be consulted by a Lamesley Parish councillor (or co-opted member) who is under investigation.
4. Dealing with complaints
The Monitoring Officer has been appointed as the Proper Officer to receive complaints of a failure by a councillor (the definition of which includes a co-opted member of the Council and a Parish councillor or co-opted member of the Parish Council) to comply with the code of conduct.
The Monitoring Officer has power, after consulting the Independent Person, to decide if a complaint merits formal investigation and, if it does, to arrange such investigation.
The Monitoring Officer is required to seek resolution of complaints without formal investigation wherever practicable but has discretion to refer decisions about investigations to the Audit and Standards Committee where he feels it is inappropriate to make the decision.
In deciding if a complaint should be investigated the Monitoring officer will take into account these assessment criteria.
Arrangements for dealing with complaints
If an investigation takes place but finds no evidence of a failure to comply with the code, the Monitoring Officer will consult the Independent Person about the investigation report and its findings and report the findings to the Audit and Standards Committee who may decide that a hearing is nevertheless called for. A copy of the report will be provided to the complainant and the councillor concerned.
If an investigation finds evidence of a failure to comply with the Code, the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Independent Person, will report the findings to the Audit and Standards Committee for a local hearing.
The Council has delegated to the Audit and Standards Committee the power to take any one or more of the following actions in respect of any councillor found after a hearing, to have failed to comply with the Code:
- Issue a formal censure.
- Recommend to full Council (or to the Parish Council) the issue of a formal censure by the Council (or by the Parish Council).
- Refer its findings to full Council (or the Parish Council) for information;
- Publish its findings by such means as the Committee thinks fit.
- Recommend to the Council (or the Parish Council) that the member be removed from any or all Committees or Sub-Committees (subject to the approval of the member’s Group if applicable).
- Recommend to the Council (or the Parish Council) that the member be removed from being the chair or vice–chair of any Committees or Sub-Committee.
- Recommend to the Leader of the Council that the member be removed from the Cabinet, or from particular portfolio responsibilities.
- Recommend to the Council (or the Parish Council) that the member be removed from one or more outside appointments to which s/he has been appointed or nominated by the Council (or the Parish Council).
- Instruct the Monitoring Officer to offer training to the member or recommend that the Parish Council should do so.
The Monitoring Officer maintains a register of councillors’ interests as set out in the Code and as required by legislation.
For further information contact:
Mike Barker, Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance
firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 433 2100