Proposed changes to Councillors’ Code of Conduct.
Ministers have published proposed changes to the Councillors’ Code of Conduct that will explicitly prohibit harassment and bullying.
The amended Code has been submitted to the Scottish Parliament for approval following its endorsement by COSLA. This brings the Councillors’ Code in line with recent changes to the Scottish Ministerial Code.
Councillors have also agreed to update guidance on acceptable behaviour to accompany the changes to the Code.
Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart said:
“Despite the great progress that has been made in promoting and achieving equality, it is clear that harassment and bullying are still issues that need tackled and this is unacceptable.
“Government works for the people and we need to be unequivocal that prejudice of any kind will not be tolerated. The proposed changes to the Councillors’ Code mean that it will specifically condemn harassment and bullying and make clear that where behaviour falls short people can expect to be held to account.”
COSLA President Councillor, Alison Evison said:
“This change sends a strong message that all forms of bullying and harassment are not only completely unacceptable but are considered a breach of the Code of Conduct. It is only right that elected members in all spheres of government are held equally to account for their behaviour and set a high example to the rest of society.
“The change to the Code of Conduct is an important part of a wider picture such as continued efforts by COSLA and the Scottish Government to tackle gender based violence, including harassment, through the Equally Safe strategy.”
If agreed by Parliament the changes to the Code are expected to come into force in the summer.
The amendment states that ‘bullying or harassment is completely unacceptable and will be considered to be a breach of this Code’.
The changes have been endorsed by the Standards Commission and the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life, the independent bodies responsible for enforcing the Code, as well as by COSLA. Similar changes to the Scottish Ministerial Code were issued by the First Minister in February.