Closed petition Legislate to enable Councillors to be disqualified or suspended for poor conduct

The Government should amend legislation to enable Councillors to be disqualified or suspended for breaching relevant Codes of Conduct. Some Councillors behave unacceptably, yet currently sanctions do not enable Councillors to be disqualified or suspended for breaches of a Code of Conduct.

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Most Councillors maintain high standards of conduct, but a significant minority engage in unacceptable behaviour, such as harassment & bullying incl. racist, sexist, ableist abuse.

This activity would be grounds for dismissal in an employment setting, and equivalent sanctions should exist for Councillors.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 November 2021

The Committee on Standards in Public Life, in their report Local Government Ethical Standards, made recommendations on suspension of councillors and conduct. The Government will respond in due course.

It is crucial that elected members in local government inspire confidence and have the trust of the electorate. Every local authority is required to adopt a code of conduct for local authority members.  It is for each local authority to determine the contents of their code, although the code must conform to the seven ‘Nolan’ principles of standards in public life - selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. The code must also have provisions about conflicts of interests, with elected members required to register and disclose pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests.

Local authorities are required to put in place arrangements to investigate and decide on allegations of breaching the code. Central government does not dictate specific arrangements to local authorities, but legislation imposes general requirements.

These arrangements must include the involvement of a person who is independent of the members and officers of the local authority. The local authority must seek the views of this independent person after any investigation and before coming to a decision, and any member who has had an allegation made against them may seek the view of the independent person. The involvement of an independent person ensures that there is a check on petty, vexatious or politically motivated complaints.

Section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972 sets out the disqualification criteria for elected post holders which disqualify anyone who has been convicted of an offence and has received a sentence of imprisonment, suspended or otherwise, for a period of three months or more from standing or serving as a member of a local authority. This is in addition to other criteria which can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/70/section/80.

Government consulted on updating the disqualification criteria for Councillors and Mayors to include certain non-custodial sentences – individuals who are subject to any relevant notification requirements, or relevant orders imposed for sexual offences. The Local Government (Disqualification) Bill, which was introduced on 16 June 2021 by Sir Paul Beresford MP, received its second reading in the House of Commons on 22 October 2021.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Review of Local Government Ethical Standards made a number of recommendations to strengthen the current standards and conduct framework and the safeguards that apply to it. The Government will be issuing its response to the Committee’s report in due course.

The Committee’s report can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-government-ethical-standards-report.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities