1.1 Stocksfield Parish Council (“the Council”) has adopted the following code which sets out the conduct that is expected of elected and co-opted members of the Council when they are acting in that capacity. This means the code applies whenever you
(a) conduct the business of the Council (including the business of your office as an elected councillor or co-opted member) or
(b) act, claim to act or give the impression you are acting as a representative of the Council.
‘Co-opted member’ includes any person who is a member of any advisory group or committee of the Council with a right to vote but who is not one of its elected members.
1.2 The code is intended to be consistent with Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life, and should be read in the light of those principles, namely that Council Members will act with selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Those Principles are not part of this Code but are set out in full at Annex 1 for information.
1.3 The Code is divided into four distinct sections. The first describes the standard of conduct with which all members must comply. The second part defines members’ registerable personal interests which are divided into ‘disclosable pecuniary interests’ and ‘other interests’. Both are clearly defined and must be recorded in the Council’s Register of Members’ Interests which is maintained by Northumberland County Council. Part three defines non-registerable interests and requires those interests to be declared at meetings whenever a matter is to be considered in which you have such an interest. Part four places additional requirements on members when matters arise at meetings in which they have a registerable or non-registerable interest if, and only if, certain further defined criteria are met.
2 The Code of Conduct
2.1 Part 1 - General Conduct
2.1.1. You must treat others with respect, including Council officers and other elected members.
2.1.2 You must not bully any person (including specifically any Council employee) and you must not intimidate or improperly influence, or attempt to intimidate or improperly influence, any person who is involved in any complaint about any alleged breach of this code of conduct.
2.1.3. You must not do anything which compromises or is likely to compromise the impartiality of anyone who works for or on behalf of the Council.
2.1.4. You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the Council, or your office as a member of the Council, into disrepute.
2.1.5. You must not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself or any other person any advantage or disadvantage.
2.1.6. You must comply with any Protocol adopted by the Council which seeks to regulate the conduct of its elected members or co-opted members and which the Council has specifically declared should fall within the provisions of this code of conduct and which is listed in Annex 4 to this Code.
2.1.7. When using or authorising the use by others of the resources of the Council, you must act in accordance with the Council’s reasonable requirements (as set out in such policy or protocol as it may adopt from time to time for these purposes) and must ensure they are not used for party political purposes.
2.1.8. You must not prevent, or attempt to prevent, another person from gaining access to information to which they are entitled by law.
2.1.9. You must not disclose information which is given to you in confidence, or information which you believe or ought reasonably to be aware is of a confidential nature, unless:
(a) You have the consent of a person authorised to give it; or
(b) You are required by law to do so; or
(c) The disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional advice, provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
(d) The disclosure is reasonable and in the public interest and made in good faith.
2.1.10. Where you have been involved in making any decision by the Council which is subsequently subject to scrutiny by an overview and scrutiny committee of the Council, you must not take part in that scrutiny process except to the extent you may be invited by the committee to give evidence to, or otherwise assist it. In this paragraph, ‘scrutiny’ means the formal examination of a policy or decision previously approved or taken by or on behalf of the Council in order to reach a view as to its merits or effectiveness.
2.2 Part 2 - Registration of interests
2.2.1. You must register in the Council’s Register of Members’ Interests information about your registerable personal interests. In this code of conduct ‘your registerable personal interests’ means:
(a) any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest as set out in Annex 2; or
(b) any other interest held by you as set out in Annex 3.
2.2.2. You must register information about your registerable personal interests by giving written notice to the Monitoring Officer, who maintains the Register, within 28 days of:
• your appointment as a member of the Council; and
• any change taking place in your registerable personal interests.
(Note: Failure without reasonable excuse to register a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is a criminal offence under section 34 Localism Act 2011 as well as being a breach of this code)
2.2.3. Where you think that disclosure of the details of any of your registerable personal interests could lead to you, or a person connected with you, being subject to violence or intimidation, the Monitoring Officer may at your request make a note on the Register that you have a personal interest, details of which are withheld.
2.2.4 For the purposes of this Code of Conduct, references to the Monitoring Officer are references to the Monitoring Officer of Northumberland County Council.
2.3 Part 3 – Non-registerable interests
2.3.1. A non-registerable interest is one other than an interest required to be registered under Part 2 of this Code (see section 2.2 above). You will have a non-registerable personal interest when you attend a meeting of the Council or one of its Advisory Groups, and you are, or ought reasonably to be, aware that a decision in relation to an item of business which is to be transacted might reasonably be regarded as affecting your financial position, or the financial position of a person described in paragraph 2.3.2, or a body or organisation described in paragraph 2.3.3, to a greater extent than most inhabitants of the area affected by the decision.
2.3.2. The persons referred to in paragraph 2.3.1 are:
(a) a member of your family;
(b) any person with whom you have a close association;
(c) in relation to persons described in (a) and (b), their employer, any firm in which they are a partner, or company of which they are a director or shareholder.
(Note: (a) “A member of your family” means: your partner (i.e. your spouse, civil partner or anyone with whom you live in a similar capacity); your parent or parent-in-law; any child, stepchild or sibling of you or your partner; your grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, nephew or niece; and the partners of any of those people.
(b) You have a “close association” with someone if your relationship is such that a reasonable member of the public might think you would be prepared to favour or disadvantage that person when deciding a matter which affects them).
2.3.3 The organisations and bodies referred to in sub paragraph 2.3.1 include all such organisations or bodies of which you are a member whether or not for payment or one that you know or might reasonably be expected to know a person referred to in sub paragraph 2.3.2 (a) or (b) is a member.
2.3.4. When you attend a meeting of the Council or of its Advisory Groups, and you are aware that you have a non-registerable interest in an item of business (as defined in paragraphs 2.3.1 to 2.3.3) you must disclose that interest to the meeting before consideration of that item begins or as soon as you become aware of the interest, whichever is the earliest.
2.4 Part 4 - Non-Participation in Council Business
2.4.1 When you attend a meeting of the Council or one of its advisory groups, and you are aware that the criteria set out in sub paragraph 2.4.2 are satisfied in relation to any matter to be considered, or being considered at that meeting, you must:
(a) Declare that fact to the meeting;
(b) Not participate (or further participate) in any discussion of the matter at the meeting; and
(c) Not participate in any vote (or further vote) taken on the matter at the meeting;
(d) Leave the room whilst the matter is being discussed.
2.4.2. The criteria for the purposes of sub paragraph 2.4.1 are that:
(a) You have a registerable or non-registerable personal interest in the matter which is such that a member of the public knowing the relevant facts would reasonably think it so significant that it is likely to prejudice your judgement of the public interest; and either
(b) The matter will or might reasonably be expected to affect the financial position of yourself or one of the persons or bodies referred to in sub paragraphs 2.3.2 or 2.3.3 or in any of your register entries; or
(c) The matter concerns a request for any permission, licence, consent or registration sought by yourself or any of the persons or bodies referred to in sub paragraphs 2.3.2 or 2.3.3 or in any of your register entries.
2.4.3 If a Council function can be discharged by you as a member acting alone and you are aware you have a registerable or non-registerable personal interest in any matter to be dealt with by you in that way which meets the criteria set out in sub paragraph 2.4.2, you shall not deal with that matter in any way (except to enable it to be dealt with by someone else).
(Note: Failure, without reasonable excuse, to comply with sub paragraphs 2.4.1 to 2.4.3 in relation to a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is a criminal offence under section 34 Localism Act 2011 as well as being a breach of this code)
2.4.4 On a written request made to the Council’s Proper Officer, the Council may grant a member a dispensation in respect of any interest described in that request which may relate to any registerable or non registerable interest. Requests for dispensations will be considered and, where appropriate, granted only in relation to the grounds and conditions set out in section 33 of the Localism Act 2011 as set out within section 13 of Standing Orders.
2.4.5. Sub paragraphs 2.4.1 to 2.4.3 do not apply if
(i) you have a relevant dispensation under section 33 of the Localism Act 2011 and/or sub paragraph 2.4.4 or
(ii) the matter in question relates to any of the following functions of the Council:
(a) an allowance, payment or indemnity given to members;
(b) any ceremonial honour given to members; and
(c) setting council tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992
Annex 1 to Code of Conduct
Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life
Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands it.
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
Annex 2 to Code of Conduct
Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
(as defined by Regulations made by the Secretary of State under section 30 Localism Act 2011)
The following interests are Disclosable Pecuniary Interests if they are an interest of either (a) yourself, or (b) your spouse or civil partner, or (c) a person with whom you are living as husband and wife, or (d) a person with whom you are living as if you were civil partners (all of whom are referred to as “relevant persons”):-
Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.
Sponsorship - Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the relevant authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out your duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.
This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
Contracts - Any contract which is made between the relevant person (or a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest) and the Council —
(a) under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and
(b) which has not been fully discharged.
Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the Council.
Licences - Any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the Council for a month or longer.
Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy where (to your knowledge)—
(a) the landlord is the Council; and
(b) the tenant is a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest.
Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body where—
(a) that body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the Council ; and
(i) the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or
(ii) if the share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.
Note: In the above descriptions, the following words have the following meanings –
“body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest” means a firm in which the relevant person is a partner or a body corporate of which the relevant person is a director, or in the securities of which the relevant person has a beneficial interest;
“director” includes a member of the committee of management of an industrial and provident society;
“land” excludes an easement, servitude, interest or right in or over land which does not carry with it a right for the relevant person (alone or jointly with another) to occupy the land or to receive income;
“securities” means shares, debentures, debenture stock, loan stock, bonds, units of a collective investment scheme within the meaning of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and other securities of any description, other than money deposited with a building society.
Annex 3 to Code of Conduct
Other Registerable Personal Interests
The other interests which you must register under paragraph 10(b) of the code are:
1. Any body of which you are a member (or in a position of general control or management) to which you are appointed or nominated by the Council;
2. Any body which (i) exercises functions of a public nature or (ii) has charitable purposes or (iii) one of whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy (including any political party or trade union) of which you are a member (or in a position of general control or management);
3. Any person from whom you have received within the previous three years a gift or hospitality with an estimated value of more than £50 which is attributable to your position as an elected or co-opted member of the Council.
Note: These mean only your interests and not those of your spouse or civil partner.
Annex 4 to Code of Conduct
Associated Policies and protocols
The Council has adopted the following policies and/or protocols which are intended to regulate the conduct of its elected members or co-opted members and which the Council has specifically declared should fall within the provisions of this code of conduct pursuant to sub paragraph 2.1.6 of the code:
Adoption and Review History
Adopted at Parish Council Meeting on 6 March 2017
Reviewed on 1 April 2019
Next review date March 2021