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 Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016 (No. 2016/84) came into effect on 1at April 2016. These Regulations amend Part III Local Government Act 2000, and consequential provisions in the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013. The 2016 Order amended the Model Code of Conduct for local government members, set out in the 2008 Order. In accordance with Section 51 of the 2000 Act, all relevant authorities (including county and community councils) must within 6 months of the date of the 2016 Order was made, adopt the revised Code of Conduct. On 21st April 2016, Ceredigion County Council resolved to adopt the revised Model Code with effect from 20th May 2016.
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.
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:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 01545 572031
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 email@example.com
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.