Eighteen months after the Committee on Standards in Public Life reported to the Prime Minister on improving ethical standards in local government, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has been pleased to have worked with the Local Government Association (LGA) to take forward the recommendation to develop an updated national model code of conduct for all tiers of local government. This is an important measure NALC called for and proposed to the committee.
The LGA is now consulting on the proposed national model member code of conduct, and NALC is urging all local (parish and town) councils and county associations of local councils to consider the proposed code and respond to the LGA to share their views.
However, the report also recognised that current sanctions available to local authorities are insufficient, and NALC is also calling on the government to take urgent action to introduce the recommendation in the report for a new power for local authorities to suspend councillors for a period of up to six months.
Failure to introduce this sanction alongside other measures will risk wider steps being taken to improve ethical standards, such as the model code of conduct and training for councillors and clerks, as being ineffective.
Now more than ever, high standards of conduct in government at all levels are needed to protect the integrity of decision making, maintain public confidence and to safeguard local democracy. That is why NALC is also calling for the Committee on Standards in Public Life to publish a timetable for reviewing progress on the implementation of the report’s wider recommendations and best practice to ensure this important issue continues to be a priority for action.