Councillors' code of conduct 2021
Amended code of conduct for Councillors setting out standards of behaviour to be followed by elected members of local authorities, issued by Ministers under the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. Subject to parliamentary approval.
Section 3: General Conduct
Respect and Courtesy
3.1 I will treat everyone with courtesy and respect. This includes in person, in writing, at meetings, when I am online and when I am using social media.
3.2 I will not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, religion or belief, marital status or pregnancy/maternity; I will advance equality of opportunity and seek to foster good relations between different people.
3.3 I will not engage in any conduct that could amount to bullying or harassment (which includes sexual harassment). I accept that such conduct is completely unacceptable and will be considered to be a breach of this Code.
3.4 I accept that disrespect, bullying and harassment can be:
a) a one-off incident,
b) part of a cumulative course of conduct; or
c) a pattern of behaviour.
3.5 I understand that how, and in what context, I exhibit certain behaviours can be as important as what I communicate, given that disrespect, bullying and harassment can be physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.
3.6 I accept that it is my responsibility to understand what constitutes bullying and harassment and I will utilise resources, including the Standards Commission’s guidance and advice notes, council policies and training material (where appropriate) to ensure that my knowledge and understanding is up to date.
3.7 I will not become involved in operational management of my council’s services as I acknowledge and understand that is the responsibility of its employees.
3.8 I will not undermine any individual employee or group of employees, or raise concerns about their performance, conduct or capability in public.
3.9 I will not take, or seek to take, unfair advantage of my position in my dealings with employees or bring any undue influence to bear on employees to take a certain action. I will not ask or direct employees to do something which I know, or should reasonably know, could compromise them or prevent them from undertaking their duties properly and appropriately.
3.10 I will follow the Protocol for Relations between Councillors and Employees at Annex A and note that a breach of the Protocol will be considered a breach of this Code. I will also comply with any internal protocol the Council has on councillor / employee relations.
3.11 I will respect and comply with rulings from the chair or convener during meetings of:
a) the Council, its committees or sub-committees; and
b) any outside organisations that I have been appointed or nominated to by the Council or that I represent my council on.
Remuneration, Allowances and Expenses
3.12 I will comply with the rules, and my council’s policies, on the payment of remuneration, allowances and expenses.
Gifts and Hospitality
3.13 I understand that I may be offered gifts (including money raised via crowdfunding or sponsorship), hospitality, material benefits or services (“gift or hospitality”) that may be reasonably regarded by a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts as placing me under an improper obligation or being capable of influencing my judgement.
3.14 I will never ask for or seek any gift or hospitality.
3.15 I will refuse any gift or hospitality, unless it is:
a) a minor item or token of modest intrinsic value offered on an infrequent basis;
b) a civic gift being offered to the Council;
c) hospitality which would reasonably be associated with my duties as a councillor or as a member of an arm’s length external organisation to which I have been appointed or nominated by my council (“ALEO”); or
d) hospitality which has been approved in advance by my council or the ALEO.
3.16 I will consider whether there could be a reasonable perception that any gift or hospitality received by a person or body connected to me could or would influence my judgement.
3.17 I will not allow the promise of money or other financial advantage to induce me to act improperly in my role as a councillor. I accept that the money or advantage (including any gift or hospitality) does not have to be given to me directly. The offer of monies or advantages to others, including community groups, may amount to bribery, if the intention is to induce me to improperly perform a function.
3.18 I will never accept any gift or hospitality from any individual or applicant who is awaiting a decision from, or seeking to do business with, my council.
3.19 If I consider that declining an offer of a gift would cause offence, I will accept it and hand it over to the Council at the earliest possible opportunity and ask for it to be registered.
3.20 I will promptly advise my council’s Monitoring Officer if I am offered (but refuse) any gift or hospitality of any significant value and / or if I am offered any gift or hospitality from the same source on a repeated basis, so that my council can monitor this.
3.21 I will not disclose confidential information or information which should reasonably be regarded as being of a confidential or private nature, without the express consent of a person or body authorised to give such consent, or unless required to do so by law. I note that if I cannot obtain such express consent, I will assume it is not given.
3.22 I accept that confidential information can include discussions, documents, information which is not yet public or never intended to be public, and information deemed confidential by statute.
3.23 I will only use confidential information to undertake my duties as a councillor. I will not use it in any way for personal or party-political advantage or to discredit my council (even if my personal view is that the information should be publicly available).
Use of Council Resources
3.24 I will only use council resources, including employee assistance, facilities, stationery and IT equipment, for carrying out council duties in accordance with all my council’s relevant policies.
3.25 I will not use, or in any way enable others to use, council resources:
a) imprudently (without thinking about the implications or consequences);
c) for any party political or campaigning activities or matters relating to these; or
Dealings with my council and Preferential Treatment
3.26 I will not use, or attempt to use, my position or influence as a councillor to:
a) improperly confer on or secure for myself, or others, an advantage;
b) avoid a disadvantage for myself, or create a disadvantage for others; or
c) improperly seek preferential treatment or access for myself or others.
3.27 I will avoid any action which could lead members of the public to believe that preferential treatment or access is being sought.
3.28 I will advise employees of any connection, as defined at Section 5, I may have to a matter, when seeking information or advice or responding to a request for information or advice from them.
3.29 I will not participate in certain decisions concerning Council Tax if I am in arrears of two months or more in respect of the payment of Council Tax.
Appointments to Outside Organisations
3.30 If I am appointed or nominated by the Council as a member of another body or organisation, I will abide by the rules of conduct and will act in the best interests of that body or organisation while acting as a member of it. I will also continue to observe the rules of this Code when carrying out the duties of that body or organisation.
3.31 I accept that if I am a director or trustee (or equivalent) of a company or a charity, as a nominee of my Council, I will be responsible for identifying, and taking advice on, any conflicts of interest that may arise between the company or charity and my council.
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