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Agenda Item No. 5

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Standards Committee: 25 January 2017

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Members' Code of Conduct: Ombudsman Guidance

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To bring to the Standards Committee's attention the latest versions of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales' Guidance on the Members' Code of Conduct for County Councillors and Town/Community Councillors.

Recommendations

  1. THAT Committee notes the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales' Guidance on the Members' Code of Conduct for County and Town/Community Councillors attached to this report at Appendices A and B.
  2. THAT the Monitoring Officer, on behalf of the Committee, forwards a copy of the relevant Guidance to all Vale of Glamorgan Councillors and all Clerks to Town/Community Councillors within the Vale of Glamorgan, drawing particular attention to the Welsh Local Government Associations guidance on Social Media entitled "Social Media: A Guide for Councillors" as attached at Appendix C to this report.

Reason for the Recommendations

  1. To apprise the Committee.
  2. To assist Councillors to observe the Members' Code of Conduct, and to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by Councillors.

Background

  1. The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales ('the Ombudsman') issues guidance to Councillors on the Members' Code of Conduct to assist in understanding the obligations under the Code, the processes applied by the Ombudsman when investigating complaints and examples of cases to assist with interpretation.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Attached at Appendix A is the Ombudsman's latest guidance to Councillors which apply to Vale of Glamorgan Councillors, and attached at Appendix B is the guidance applicable to Town and Community Councillors.
  2. Of particular note, the Ombudsman has addressed in Appendices A and B:
  • The revisions to the Members' Code of Conduct brought about by the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2016;
  • Provides further guidance on the use of social media, and links to the Welsh Local Government Association's guidance on social media entitled 'Social Media: A Guide for Councillors', a copy of which is attached at Appendix C to this report;
  • Refers and provides a link to the High Court case of Heesom;
  • Provides a link to the Information Commissioners guidance on the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act; and
  • In Appendix A provides a flow chart to assist in the staged-process for Councillors when considering whether they have a personal and prejudicial interest.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. None directly associated with this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None directly associated with this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. None directly associated with this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None directly associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. As detailed in the body of the attached Guidance.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1.   Not applicable.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. Not applicable.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Not applicable.

Background Papers

Attached as appendices to this report.

Contact Officer

Debbie Marles, Head of Legal Services (and Monitoring Officer)

Officers Consulted

None

Responsible Officer:

Debbie Marles, Head of Legal Services (and Monitoring Officer)

 

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