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Ethics and Standards

Information

The Local Government Act 2000 established a new 'ethical framework' for local government in Wales, the main components of which are:-

  • the introduction of a set of Principles which govern the conduct of elected and co-opted members of County Councils and Community Councils in Wales.
  • a model Code of Conduct for elected and co-opted members, which must be consistent with the above Principles.
  • a requirement for each County Council to establish a standards committee to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members of the County Council and the Community Councils situated in its area
  • investigation of alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, who may refer matters to the Council's Ethics & Standards Committee or to the Adjudication Panel for Wales, an independent body established under the 2000 Act.
  • a register of interests of the members and co-opted members of the County Council

Contact - Democratic Services:

Contact - Monitoring Officer:
Email: MonitoringOfficer@ceredigion.gov.uk
Telephone: 01545 572120
Post:
Monitoring Officer
Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion
Penmorfa
Aberaeron
Ceredigion
SA46 0PA

Agenda, Reports and Minutes

The agenda, reports and minutes of the Ethics & Standards Committee can be viewed here.

Committee

Ethics and Standards Committee

"Our vision is that the people of Ceredigion will have trust and confidence that all those elected to office in local government in our county will work to the highest ethical and moral standards in serving their community".

Ethics & Standards Committee's Vision Statement, February 2012

What does the Ethics & Standards Committee do?

The Local Government Act 2000 sets out the functions of the Ethics & Standards Committee as follows:-

  • promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Councillors
  • assisting Councillors to observe the Code of Conduct
  • advising the Council on the adoption or revision of the Code of Conduct
  • monitoring the operation of the Code of Conduct, and
  • advising, training or arranging to train Councillors on matters relating to the Code of Conduct

The Ethics & Standards Committee can also grant dispensations, which permit Councillors who have an interest in a particular item of Council business to continue to take part in that business.

Investigation reports produced by the Ombudsman or the Council's Monitoring Officer on alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct may be referred to the Ethics & Standards Committee for determination.

The Ethics & Standards Committee also exercises the above responsibilities in relation to Town and Community Councils in Ceredigion.

Examples of the type of work carried out by Ceredigion's Ethics & Standards Committee include:

  • involvement in developing training materials on the Code, including a flowchart summarising the main provisions of the Code
  • attendance at and participation in training sessions on the Code for both the County Council and Community Councils
  • attendance at Council and Committee meetings to observe proceedings
  • the introduction of procedures which allow Councillors to attend Committee meetings to present an application for dispensation in person
  • providing advice to Councillors regarding dispensation applications

Who are the Ethics & Standards Committee members?

The Ethics & Standards Committee has 9 members in total, comprising of 5 independent members, 2 County Councillors and 2 Community Council representatives. The Committee is required by law to have a majority of independent members who must not be members or officers of Ceredigion County Council or any other local authority. The Committee must be chaired by an independent member.

Vacancies for independent members are advertised in the local press and appointments are made on the recommendation of a selection panel, which must include one lay panel member, who must not be, nor have been, a member or officer of any local authority.

The current members of the Ethics & Standards Committee are listed below:-

  • Mr Eddie Ffoulkes-Jones (Chair / independent member)
  • Mr Stephen Cripps (Vice Chair / independent member)
  • Mr Hywel Jones (independent member)
  • Mr Rif Winfield (independent member)
  • Mrs Caroline White (independent member)
  • Councillor J.T.O. Davies (Ceredigion County Council)
  • Councillor D.J. Mason (Ceredigion County Council)
  • Councillor David Jones (Community Council representative)
  • Councillor Iorwerth Reed (Community Council representative)

When does the Ethics & Standards Committee meet?

The Ethics & Standards Committee has scheduled bimonthly meetings, usually on the second Friday of the month. Meetings can also be convened at other times in order to consider dispensation applications or other urgent business. Please refer to the schedule of meetings for further details.


Ethics and Standards Committee Decisions

One of the functions of the Ethics & Standards Committee is to consider investigation reports produced by the Ombudsman or the Council's Monitoring Officer on alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by County Councillors or Community Councillors.

Where the Ethics & Standards Committee determines that a member has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct, it may determine that:-

  • no action needs to be taken in respect of that failure
  • the member should be censured, or
  • the member should be suspended or partially suspended from being a member for a period not exceeding 6 months

A member may appeal against a determination of the Ethics & Standards Committee to the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

Details of the decisions made by the Ethics & Standards Committee to date are available to download.

Downloads

Cllr Janet Owen (Borth)

Councillor Douglas Davies (Llandysul)

Links

The Code

The Code of Conduct

The Local Government Act 2000 provides that County Councils and Community Councils must adopt a Code of Conduct, which includes each of the provisions contained in a model code of conduct issued by the National Assembly for Wales. Ceredigion County Council resolved on 17 April 2008 to adopt the current model code as its own Code of Conduct with effect from 5 May 2008.

The Code is underpinned by a set of Principles issued by the Assembly, which govern the conduct of elected and co-opted members of County Councils and Community Councils in Wales. These Principles are included on pages 4 and 5 of the Code.

All members of County Councils and Community Councils must give a written undertaking to abide by the Code that their authority has adopted.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has issued Guidance on the Code of Conduct for members of local authorities in Wales.

How to complain that a Councillor has breached the Code of Conduct

Anyone who believes that a Councillor may have breached the Code of Conduct can make a complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, who will then decide whether or not the matter should be investigated.

If the Ombudsman decides that there is enough evidence to do so, he will send a formal report either to the Council's Ethics & Standards Committee or to the Adjudication Panel for Wales, which will then decide whether there has been a breach of the Code and, if so, what penalty to give the member concerned. The Ethics & Standards Committee has power to censure a member, or suspend or partially suspend a member for a period not exceeding 6 months. The maximum penalty available to the Adjudication Panel for Wales is five years' disqualification from office.

Downloads

Code of Conduct for Members

Links


Register of Members' Interests

The County Council is required by the Local Government Act 2000 to establish and maintain a register of interests of the members and co-opted members of the Council. Paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct requires County Councillors to register details of their financial and other interests in the Register maintained by the Council within 28 days of being elected.

Councillors also have an ongoing responsibility to give written notification to the Council of their personal interests in any Council business by completing a Notification of Personal Interests form at meetings. These forms are then kept with the Register of Members' Interests.

Anyone who wishes to view the Register of Members' Interests can contact Democratic Services:


Dispensations

The Code of Conduct requires Councillors to disclose certain interests and, in certain cases, to withdraw from discussions on those matters at meetings. The Ethics & Standards Committee has discretion to remove these restrictions by granting dispensations which enable members to either speak and vote or to speak but not to vote at meetings. The grounds on which dispensations may be granted are prescribed by regulations.

Members who wish to apply for a dispensation must complete and return an Application for Dispensation form to the County Council's Standards Officer either by post to the Chief Executive's Department, Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron SA46 0PA or by e-mail to democracy@ceredigion.gov.uk

Members are asked to ensure that the application form is completed in full in order to assist the Ethics & Standards Committee in reaching a decision. Incomplete applications are likely to be returned to applicants. The application form includes guidance notes for Councillors and any queries can be referred to the Standards Officer on 01545 572031.

Having completed an application form, Councillors may also choose to attend before the Committee to present the application for dispensation in person. The Ethics & Standards Committee has produced guidance on making applications in person to assist members who wish to attend before the Committee.

Downloads

Dispensation Application Form

Guidance On Making Applications In Person

Independent Member

Independent Member of Ethics & Standards Committee

Job Description / Role

Responsible to: The Ethics & Standards Committee and to the Council

Liaison with: Members of the Ethics & Standards Committee, Monitoring Officer, Standards, Officer and other Council Officers; Members of County Council and Town / Community Councils.

Background

The Council’s Ethics & Standards Committee comprises nine members:

Five ‘independent’ members, who are not Councillors or Officers of the spouse of a Councillor or an officer of this Council or any other relevant authority as defined by the Regulations, appointed in accordance with the procedure set out in Regulations;

Two Councillors [other than the Leader of the Council and any member of the Cabinet];

Two members of Town and Community Councils wholly or mainly in the Council’s area (‘Community Committee members’).

Term of Office

Members are appointed for a term of not less than four, and no more than 6 years. Members may be reappointed for one further consecutive term not exceeding five years.

Role & Function

Promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Councillors, Co-opted Members and church and parent governor representatives;

Assisting the Councillors, Co-opted Members and church and parent governor representatives to observe the Members’ Code of Conduct’;

Advising the Council on the adoption or revision of the Members’ Code of Conduct;

Monitoring the operation of the Members’ Code of Conduct

Advising, training or arranging to train Councillors, co-opted members and church and parent governor representatives on matters relating to the Members’ Code of Conduct;

Granting dispensations to Councillors, Co-opted Members and church and parent governor representatives from requirements relating to interests set out in the Members’ Code of Conduct; (81(4) & (5) LGA 2000 and the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensation( (Wales) Regulations 2001 (2001/2279)

Dealing with any reports from a case tribunal or interim case tribunal, and any report from the Monitoring Officer on any matter referred to that officer by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales; (section 73 (1) LGA 2000 and the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001) (2001 2281)

The exercise of 9.3.1 to 9.3.7 above in relation to the Community Councils wholly or mainly in its area and the members of those Community Councils; (Section 56 (1) LGA 2000)

To appoint an appeals panel of three, with a majority of independent members, one of whom would act as Chairperson, with regard to complaints made by members of the public under the Council’s complaints procedure.

Functions

Participate in the promotion of high ethical standards and compliance with the services

Participate in the promotion of high ethical standards and compliance with the Members Code of Conduct and contribute towards the effective discharge of the statutory role and responsibilities of the Ethics & Standards Committee.

Advising the Council on the adoption or revision of the Code of Conduct

To attend regularly and participate in meetings of the Ethics & Standards Committee [Note:- meetings will normally be held at 9.30am].

To participate in hearings in relation to complaints of Member misconduct under the Code of Conduct.

To actively promote ethics and standards within the Council area.

To develop and apply knowledge of the Code of Conduct in relation to matters brought before the Ethics & Standards Committee, including the determination of allegations of Member misconduct.

To analyse and exercise fair and impartial judgement on conduct issues and to set standards of ethical behaviour.

To provide a view on the governance of the Council from an external perspective which will better enable the Committee, including the determination of allegations of Member misconduct.

To develop a sound understanding of the ethical and wider regulatory framework within which the Council operates and to contribute to the overall effectiveness of the full scope of the work of the Committee.

  1. To be aware of the views of the local community on ethical standards and to reflect these in activities of the Committee.
  2. Be prepared to undertake training and to participate in training events organised by the Committee to promote awareness of the Code of Conduct.
  3. To attend meetings of the District Council and civic and other functions in order to raise the profile of ethics and standards within the authority.
  4. In the absence of the Chairman, to participate in any forum established for independent Members of the Standards Committee.
  5. To assess and determine applications by Councillors for dispensation.
Contact

Democratic Services:

Email: ethicsandstandards@ceredigion.gov.uk
Telephone: 01545 572031
Post:
Ethics and Standards
Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion
Penmorfa
Aberaeron
Ceredigion
SA46 0PA

Monitoring Officer:

Email: MonitoringOfficer@ceredigion.gov.uk
Telephone: 01545 572120
Post:
Monitoring Officer
Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion
Penmorfa
Aberaeron
Ceredigion
SA46 0PA