Code of Conduct and Scrutiny
The Localism Act 2011 introduced a new regime for standards and dealing with complaints against members.
Confidence in local democracy is paramount and can only be achieved when councillors are seen to live up to the high standards the public expects.
Code of Conduct
Every local authority must adopt a Code of Conduct that sets out rules governing the behaviour of its councillors (members). All elected, co-opted and independent members of local authorities, including Parish Councils are covered by a Code.
Breckland Council's own Code of Conduct was approved by Full Council in March 2023 and was implemented in May 2023. This is based on the Local Government Association's Model Code of Conduct and covers the following areas of individual behaviour:
Parish councils are required to adopt their own Codes and make them available for inspection.
Code of Governance
Corporate Governance is the term used to describe the system by which local authorities direct and control their functions and relate to their communities. In January 2008 Breckland Council adopted a revised local Code of Governance. This is consistent with the principles and reflects the requirements of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA) and Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) in their document 'Delivering Good Governance in Local Government Framework'.
The Code is the framework by which the council is accountable to its users, stakeholders and the wider community. It sets out and describes how the council carries out its functions through its Members and employees and the procedures and processes by which it undertakes its work. By doing so, it ensures, establishes, and maintains public confidence. The council is responsible for ensuring that it:
- Conducts its business in accordance with the law and proper standards.
- Safeguards and properly accounts for public money, and that it uses it economically, efficiently and effectively.
The Code enables the council's business processes to be assessed against the best practice in the six core principal areas:
- Focusing on the purpose of the authority and on outcomes for the community, as well as creating and implementing a vision for the local area.
- Member and Officers working together to achieve a common purpose with clearly defined functions and roles.
- Promoting values for the authority and demonstrating the values of good governance by upholding high standards of conduct and behaviour.
- Taking informed and transparent decisions that are subject to effective scrutiny and managing risk.
- Developing the capacity and capability of members and officers to be effective.
- Engaging with local people and other stakeholders to ensure robust public accountability.
Each year the Code will be reviewed in terms of its content and effectiveness. Furthermore, a Statement of Assurance will be published setting out whether the standards expected are still being met.
The council's Overview & Scrutiny Commission (OSC) aims to improve the services that you use. It does this by monitoring, questioning and making recommendations on the way services are provided and decisions taken.
OSC is designed to oversee the work of the Cabinet and of officers who have increased delegated powers. OSC has incorporated key roles for non-executive councillors in undertaking a scrutiny role for the council.
The OSC sets up a number of task and finish groups to examine specific issues in great depth. These groups help inform policy review and service provision across the council.
The OSC can "call in" decisions for reconsideration, hold inquiries into matters of local concern, review council services, policies and performance, and recommend improvements
The OSC's four roles:
- Performance monitoring: The council has to meet specific targets each year to achieve "Best Value". Scrutiny monitors the council's performance against these targets.
- Holding the Executive (Cabinet) to account: Decisions made by Cabinet but not yet implemented can be "called in" by Scrutiny and challenged.
- Policy review and development: Scrutiny can propose new policies or review existing ones and recommend changes.
- External scrutiny: Any issue or matter directly affecting Breckland residents can be scrutinised by the council, even if it is provided by another organisation. These could include the Housing Association or Norfolk County Council.
How to get involved
Public speaking is allowed at the OSC under measures to enhance public participation in the scrutiny process. Breckland residents are entitled to attend to ask a question, make a statement, or present a petition relating to any item of business on the agenda.
The Overview & Scrutiny Commission welcomes your help in making sure the council delivers effective, value-for-money services. There are a number of ways you can be involved:
- If there is an issue you feel strongly about you can contact the Democratic Services Team direct.
- Phone or write to us with your views on any of the topics at which the Commission or Task and Finish Groups (T&FG) are currently looking, or issues you think should be drawn to the OSC's attention.
- Contact your local elected member.
- Come along to a meeting of the OSC. Venues, dates and times for all forthcoming OSC meetings are shown on the calendar of meetings on the council's website. These meetings are normally held in public.
When does the scrutiny commission meet?
Meetings of the OSC are held six weekly (except for the summer recess in August) and all are open to the public. Occasionally, however, parts of a meeting may be closed to the public if, under government guidance, disclosure of information would breach personal or business confidentiality.
How can I raise an issue of concern relating to council policy or performance?
Contact either your local councillor, a member of the OSC, or email the Democratic Services team (email@example.com). You can also write to:
Democratic Services, Breckland Council, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE
Last updated: 02/08/2023 16:39:58