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Agenda Item No.6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Council: 27th April, 2016

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

The Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016

Purpose of the Report

  1. To apprise Members of the provisions of the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016 and amend the Council's Members' Code of Conduct to comply with the same.

Recommendations

  1. THAT the provisions of the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016 be adopted and incorporated within the Members' Code of Conduct contained in the Council's Constitution.
  2. THAT the Monitoring Officer ensures that the requirements of section 51(6) of the Local Government Act 2000 are adhered to.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To ensure the Members' Code of Conduct reflects the provisions of the above Order.
  1. To comply with the statutory obligation.

Background

  1. The Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016 amends existing subordinate legislation made under Part III of the Local Government Act 2000, consequential upon provisions in the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 ("the 2013 Act"). The Order comes into force on 1st April, 2016.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Order amends the Model Code of Conduct for Local Government Members (the existing provisions of which are reflected in the Members' Code of Conduct contained in the Council's Constitution). The main amendments are as follows:
  • The 2013 Act transferred responsibility for maintaining the Register of Interests of Members of Community Councils from the Monitoring Officer of the Principal Local Authority for the area to the 'Proper Officer' of each Community Council with effect from 1st May, 2015. A number of consequential amendments are made to the Model Code to reflect this change.
  • The Model Code is also amended to clarify that, in terms of the Register of Members' Interests, any interest disclosed for the first time must be entered in the Register. This is not a change of policy, but clarifies the original intention. The exemption for Community Councillors from the requirement to register certain financial and other interests up front is maintained.
  • The obligation on a Member to report a potential breach of the Code of Conduct to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales is now omitted from the Code. However, there continues to be the obligation to report such matters to the Monitoring Officer.
  • Paragraph 18.3.1(K) of the Code is now omitted. This is to overcome unintended difficulties in the practical application of this paragraph in relation to participation in business relating to constituency interests. Nevertheless, a Member participating in the consideration of a Ward matter is still under an obligation to act objectively and in the wider public interest in accordance with paragraph 18.2.9 of the Code. For ease of reference Paragraph 18.3.1 (K) required a member to regard himself/herself as having a personal interest in any business of its authority if:…… "a member of the public might reasonably perceive a conflict between your role in taking a decision, upon that business, on behalf of your authority as a whole and your role in representing the interests of constituents in your ward or electoral division".
  1. Other minor changes have been made and they are also incorporated in the revised Members' Code of Conduct, at Appendix A.
  2. This matter was considered by the Standards Committee on 15th April 2016 and it was resolved that that the provisions of the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016 be noted and incorporated within the Members' Code of Conduct contained in the Council's Constitution.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. All relevant Authorities must within six months of the Amendment Order adopt a revised Code of Conduct. The Order was made on 27th January, 2016 and, therefore, the Council has until 26th July, 2016 in which to adopt a revised Code. However, it has been suggested by Welsh Government that it would be sensible for Local Authorities to do so no later than at their 2016 Annual Meeting.
  2. There is no legal requirement for existing Members to sign a further declaration mid-term undertaking to observe the Members' Code of Conduct as amended, given that the current declaration extends to revisions of the Members' Code of Conduct.
  3. Section 51(6) of the Local Government Act 2000 requires the Authority as soon as reasonably practicable after revising its Members' Code of Conduct:
  • to ensure that copies are available at an office of the authority for inspection by the public at all reasonable hours;
  • to publish in one or more newspaper circulating in the area a notice which states that the Authority has revised the Code and made it available for inspection; and
  • to send a revised copy of the Code to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. To ensure compliance with statutory obligation.
  2. The Constitution is part of the framework supporting the Council's commitment to provide political leadership and active relationship and engagement.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This matter is for determination by Full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This is an internal matter and consultation is, therefore, not necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. None.

Background Papers

The Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016.

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Tel: (01446) 709408

Officers Consulted

Head of Democratic Services

Responsible Officer:

Ms. D. Marles

Monitoring Officer