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The process for complaints against councillors and co-opted members

Investigations

The Monitoring Officer will decide whether to investigate within 28 working days of receiving the complaint. The decision is based on whether the allegation, if proved, would constitute a failure to observe the Code of Conduct and the application of our assessment criteria for complaints against councillors or co-opted members

We'll inform both parties of the Monitoring Officer's decision together with the reasons for that decision. This is subject to any decision on confidentiality arising as referred to above.

Informal resolution

If the Monitoring Officer thinks the complaint can be resolved informally, they'll consult with you and the subject member to agree a fair outcome. The Monitoring Officer may involve the Independent Person if appropriate.  

We have appointed one Independent Person. Their views will also be asked for when taking any action following a finding of failure to comply with the Code of Conduct. Their views are also needed before we take a decision on an allegation we've decided we should investigate. We can request the views of the Independent person at any other stage. The Independent Persons role is an advisory one.

If the councillor agrees with the suggested resolution, the Monitoring Officer will report the matter to the Audit and Standards Committee ('the Committee') for information. We will take no further action.

The Investigating Officer 

We'll appoint an Investigating Officer who will write to the subject member for their explanation of events. They'll have the opportunity to identify relevant documents/materials and who to interview. 

They may need to meet or speak to you to understand the nature of the complaint. You'll have the same opportunity to provide your understanding of events, suggest documents/materials, and who to interview.

At the end of the investigation, the Investigating Officer will produce a draft report. You, the Monitoring Officer, and the subject member will receive copies of the draft report, in confidence. You can highlight anything you disagree with or consider needs more consideration. 

The Investigating Officer will take all comments into account before sending the final report to the Monitoring Officer.

No evidence of a failure to follow the Code of Conduct

If  there is no evidence of a failure to comply, the Monitoring Officer will write to you and the councillor. 

We'll take no further action. You'll both receive a copy of the Investigating Officer's final report. 

If there was evidence of a failure to comply, or that the investigation was not carried out properly, they'll consult with our Independent Person and consider referring the matter for a hearing before the committee.

Local Resolution

Local resolution is a way of handling complaints by resolving, explaining or clearing up a matter. 

Even if there's evidence of a failure to follow the Code of Conduct, there may still be an opportunity for local resolution, avoiding a hearing. 

An investigation report may cause a member to recognise that their conduct was at least capable of giving offence. You may be satisfied for instance, by recognition of fault or an apology.

It would only be appropriate for the Monitoring Officer to agree a local resolution at this stage after consultation with the council's Independent Person and the chair of the committee. 

Also, this would be conditional on you are satisfied with the outcome. The summary report on any local resolution of a complaint is reported to the committee for information.

Referral for hearing

If local resolution was not possible, the Monitoring Officer will then refer the matter for a hearing before the sub-committee. 

The hearing

Where the sub-committee has referred a matter for a hearing the Councillor code of conduct annex 2 (PDF) [100KB]  will apply.

At the end of the hearing

The sub-committee will confirm if a member has failed to follow the Code of Conduct. They will also state any actions they recommend that the committee should take. 

You and the member will receive a formal decision notice. The decision notice will be available for public inspection on the website. The Audit and Standards Committee may report the decision to the next convenient meeting of the council.

Revision of the arrangements

We may need to depart from these arrangements to secure the effective and fair consideration of any matter. We'll regularly review the arrangements.