Local authorities have a statutory duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by member and co-opted members of the authority.
The audit and governance committee makes sure the council fulfils this duty and deals with complaints and appeals under the councillors' code of conduct.
The ethical framework
The Audit and Governance committee oversees of the council's ethical framework. This includes:
- Dealing with complaints through sub-committees
- Receiving ethical monitoring reports, which monitor matters such as complaints, declaration of interests and registration of interests, training and current issues
- Agreeing an annual report submitted to full council
- Monitoring the effectiveness of training on conduct issues is provided for councillors
The councillors code of conduct complaints procedure
The code of conduct complaints procedure has the following key stages:
- Monitoring officer stage: The Monitoring Officer will receive and makes an initial assessment of a complaint as to whether it should be investigated under the code or dealt with by other means
- Investigation stage: If the Monitoring Officer decides that an investigation is required, an officer or external investigator will be appointed. The investigation will only investigate the facts of the case and will provide a report within 2 months maximum
- Determination stage: The investigation report will be presented to a sub-committee of the Audit and Governance committee to decide whether or not the Member has breached the Code of Conduct and, if so, what sanction is appropriate if any
- Appeal stage: Any appeal against the determination hearing decision will be made to a differently constituted sub-committee of the Audit and Governance committee. The appeal will be final. An appeal against a Monitoring Officer decision not to investigate by the complainant will be made to the Chief Executive
The expected average time frame for dealing with a complaint is as follows:
- Monitoring officer stage: 30 days
- Investigation: 2 months
- Hearing: Within 30 days of the final investigation report
- Appeal: Must be brought within 7 days and heard within 30 days
These are maximum times and provide for a maximum length of about five months (including appeal) but it is expected that most complaints will be dealt with within three months.
Councillors code of conduct complaints procedure (Word)
What action can the committee take about a complaint?
The council has no legal authority to suspend, disqualify or withdraw resources or allowances as a response to a breach of the code of conduct.
However the Audit and Governance committee can:
- censure (make a statement condemning the councillors actions) the councillor
- remove the councillor from any or all of the committees and / or prevent them from being is nominated for appointment in the future - this may be for a fixed period, or
- publish its decision on the council's website
Make a complaint about a councillor
If you have a complaint about a councillor or you think a councillor has breached the council's code of conduct, write to Mark Hynes the council's Monitoring Officer and Director of Governance and Law.
Waltham Forest Council
Waltham Forest Town Hall
Role of the Independent Person
An independent person provides advice on the code of conduct to the council.
The council appointed Daniel Fluskey as its Independent Person in 2012. Mr Fluskey is a Waltham Forest resident, works in the charity sector, and has experience of mediation and conflict resolution.
The independent person doesn’t investigate individual complaints.