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Agenda item


To present the findings of the Committee on Standards in Public Life review of

local government ethical standards and agree what action to take in respect of the best practice recommendations.


Mrs Hurst, Head of Democratic Governance, reported on the findings of Committee on Standards in Public Life review of local government ethical standards.  The review covered all local authorities in England, including parish councils and examined the structures and processes in place for maintaining codes of conduct for local councillors, investigating alleged breaches of the code, sanctions for misconduct and managing conflicts of interest.   A consultation had also been undertaken as part of the review. 


Following a workshop held with representatives from Blackpool and Fylde Borough Councils a joint response on behalf of both Councils had been submitted as part of the consultation.  The main area that had been highlighted at the workshop related to the imposition of stronger sanctions to deal with certain areas of misconduct.  Members also considered that having a model code of conduct would be beneficial to ensure consistency across Councils. 


The outcome of the review had been published earlier in the year and an Executive Summary of the Local Government Ethical Standards Review had been attached as an appendix to the report, with the full report accessible via the below link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-government-ethical-standardsreport


Mrs Hurst referred to the main recommendations of the review as set out in the report.  These included the key recommendation that local authorities be given the power to suspend councillors without allowances for up to six months for significant or recurring breaches, with a right of appeal.  Mrs Hurst went on to report on the other recommendations which included revised rules on declaring interests and gifts and hospitality, a voluntary Model Code of Conduct and a fixed term of appointment of Independent Persons and a strengthening of the role.  Further recommendations related to the provision of adequate resources, training and support to Monitoring Officers, greater transparency for reporting and publishing Code of Conduct issues and the setting of clear behavioural expectations by political groups and mandatory training of Elected Members.  The Committee noted that some of the recommendations would require legislation and that a response from Government in relation to these recommendations was currently awaited.


Mrs Hurst referred the Committee to the appendix to the report that set out the best practice recommendations which local authorities could implement without the need for legislation.  The Committee considered each recommendation in turn and Mrs Hurst elaborated further on the Monitoring Officer’s initial comments on each of the recommendations.  It was noted that some of the recommendations were already in place, such as the number of Independent Persons which currently exceeded the recommendation and the existence of reciprocal investigation agreements between Blackpool and Fylde Borough Councils.  The updating of the gifts and hospitality register was also in place, although it was accepted that further work was required on the format of the information presented.  In relation to the other recommendations it was noted that some could be implemented immediately whilst others would benefit from collaborative working with Fylde Borough Council. Mrs Hurst also referred to the recommendation regarding the publication of information for the Council’s companies, reminding the Committee that for some of the companies that were limited by shares their minutes and agendas contained commercially sensitive data which could not be published. 


The Committee questioned how collaboration with Fylde Borough Council would work in practice and Mrs Hurst explained the intention to hold a joint informal workshop to agree a broad set of principles that could be informed by a future model code, which would then be brought back to each respective Council’s Standards Committee for approval.  Responding to further questions regarding the potential for one of the Councils not to agree to adopt a particular recommendation, Mr Towers highlighted the benefit of having similar broad principles, particularly in view of the shared reciprocal investigation agreements and the same Independent Persons appointed for both Councils. 



1.      To note the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and its recommendations.

2.      To agree that the Monitoring Officer liaises with the Monitoring Officer at Fylde Borough Council, other Monitoring Officers as appropriate and the three Independent Persons in respect of implementing the best practice recommendations and report on progress at the next meeting.

3.      To agree to the implementation of the best practice recommendations that did not require collaboration with Fylde Borough Council.


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