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17.4.08 Localism and Devolved powers - Another Big Con


3 April 2008

Local government to have more power to enforce high standards of conduct

Local Government Minister John Healey today announced that councils will have more powers to hold their members to account for their conduct.

The new, more locally-based conduct regime - to be in force from May this year - gives local standards committees the responsibility for initially assessing all allegations of misconduct by councillors and, in all but the most serious cases, for any subsequent investigations, decisions and sanctions.

The maximum sanctions committees can impose on a member who has breached the code of conduct of local authority members will also increase, from a three-month partial or total suspension from office, to six months.

Under the new regime, the Standards Board will have the role of a strategic light-touch regulator, providing advice, support and guidance to assist local standards committees in undertaking their new roles. The Board will also monitor authorities' performance in carrying out their new functions in order to maintain consistently high standards across England.

Local Government Minister John Healey said:
"We are committed to devolving decision-making as much as possible to the local level, and local councils are best placed to deal with all but the most serious conduct issues. This new tough but proportionate regime means the public will be able to have full confidence in their local representatives.

"These regulations, prepared after wide consultation with local government and stakeholders, also deliver our commitment to introduce a devolved regime for the investigation and determination of all but the most serious allegations of misconduct against local councillors.

"Local authority standards committees will receive support and guidance from the Standards Board, ensuring that local councils across the country are empowered to maintain and promote the high ethical standards expected of their members."

Notes to editors
1. In 2005, the Committee on Standards in Public Life argued in its tenth report Getting the Balance Right - Implementing Standards of Conduct in Public Life that to guarantee high standards of conduct by councillors, decision-making on allegations of misconduct should be devolved as much as possible to the local level.
2. The Government responded to this by proposing, in its 2006 White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities , to introduce a more proportionate and locally-based conduct regime. These proposals were incorporated into Part 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, which received Royal Assent in October 2007.

3. In January 2008, the Government published its Orders and Regulations Relating to the Conduct of Local Authority Members in England consultation paper. The paper sought the views of local government, stakeholders and the public on the detailed provisions to be included in regulations, deriving from Part 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, to put in place the new conduct regime. A summary of the responses received and the Government's response to those comments and issues raised by consultees has been placed in the library of the House of Commons and House of Lords.
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Does anyone really believe that giving local council members/political parties the responsiblity to regulate and enforce penalties on themselves is going to work?
I really can't see this 'localism' working in anyones interest other then the councils.

If I remember correctly the duty on the council member to report another member who is not following the members code of conduct is also to be ditched.... deregulation is what its called and it simply does not work.

Councils cannot be trusted to operate honestly and in the best interests of the communities they are supposed to be serving. Its going to be a disaster because the main political parties on the council, and other dubious groups of 'like minded individuals' like to stick their nose in everywhere and take over, and don't want anyone outside of their circle to have any real influence. Everything they touch becomes tainted.