Councillor Rules

RULES FOR COUNCILLORS

You cannot act as a councillor until you have signed a formal declaration of acceptance of your office.
You must sign it at or before the rst council meeting following your election or co-option in the presence of another councillor or the clerk. Failure to sign means you cannot continue as a councillor, unless you were given permission to sign later.

As a councillor you have a responsibility to:

  • attend meetings when summoned to do so; the notice to attend a council meeting is, in law, a summons, because you have a duty to attend
  • consider, in advance of the meeting, the agenda and any related
  • documents which were sent to you with the summons
  • take part in meetings and consider all the relevant facts and issues on matters which require a decision including the views of others expressed at the meeting
  • take part in voting and respect decisions made by the majority of those present and voting
  • ensure, with other councillors, that the council is properly managed represent the whole electorate, and not just those who voted for you.

COUNCILLORS’ CONDUCT AND INTERESTS

There seven Nolan principles apply to the conduct of people in public life. They are:

Selflessness – you should act in the public interest

Integrity – you should not put yourself under any obligations to others, allow them improperly to influence you or seek benefit for yourself, family, friends or close associates

Objectivity – you should act impartially, fairly and on merit

Accountability – you should be prepared to submit to public scrutiny necessary to ensure accountability

Openness – you should be open and transparent in your actions and decisions unless there are clear and lawful reasons for non-disclosure

Honesty – you should always be truthful

Leadership – as a councillor, you should promote, support and exhibit high standards of conduct and be willing to challenge poor behaviour.

CODE OF CONDUCT

Each local council must adopt and publicise a code of conduct that is in line with the Nolan principles.
The code should deal with councillors’ obligations about their conduct including the registration and disclosure of their interests (see below). Complaints about councillors’ conduct are dealt with by the principal authority.

The National Association of Local Councils has developed a template code of conduct2 specifically for parish councils, which covers these issues. Your council is not obliged to use this template.

Alternative models are also available from your principal authority or from the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

You should ask to see your council’s code of conduct to ensure that you are aware of your responsibilities and any personal disclosure requirements.

COUNCILLORS’ INTERESTS

As a councillor, you must abide by rules that apply to the disclosure of some business or nancial interests. These are called “disclosable pecuniary interests” or “DPIs”. DPIs include your employment, ownership of land, and business interests in your parish. Other interests

are usually non-pecuniary or personal interests. Your council’s code will establish what actions you must take for personal interests.

You must disclose to your principal authority’s monitoring o cer any DPIs and any other disclosable interests that are referred to in your council’s code of conduct within 28 days of becoming a member of the council. The monitoring o cer will make a register of your interests available to the public – usually on the principal authority’s website. This rule on disclosure also applies to your spouse, civil partner or cohabitee, as
if their interests were yours. You should be aware that the register of interests does not distinguish between
a councillor’s interests and those that are held by
your partner.

If the monitoring o cer decides that, by making a disclosable interest public, you might be subject to a threat of violence or intimidation the fact that you have the interest can be registered without details of the interest. This is known as a sensitive interest.

You should give a copy of your register of interests to your clerk for your council’s website.

If an agenda item relates to one of your DPIs – such as the expansion of a supermarket chain in which you own shares – you must not participate in the discussion or vote. You must withdraw if your council’s standing orders say so. Also, if the interest has not been registered with the monitoring o cer, you must disclose the interest at the meeting (or, for sensitive interests, disclose the issue but not the detail). You must then notify the monitoring o cer within 28 days of the meeting.

The declaration of interests at meetings is intended to give the public con dence in your council’s decision making. It helps if the agenda gives councillors an opportunity to declare an interest early in a meeting.

DISPENSATIONS

A council can decide that a councillor with a DPI can participate and vote on a council motion. This is called granting a dispensation. If you have a DPI but think you should be able to participate in the discussion and vote on the matter, you put your request in writing to the council. Your clerk will advise. As a councillor, you can vote on your own request for a dispensation.