4. Should an amendment apply to all public bodies and not just RTPs?
4.1 The consultation document highlighted that, although the issue has been raised specifically in relation to RTPs, it was also perhaps relevant in connection with other public bodies.
4.2 Question 4 asked respondents who agreed to an amendment in question one, if that amendment should apply to all public bodies, and not just RTPs. Question 5 then asked for comment, but only from those who had responded no to question 4. Although the questions were intended for those who had only responded in a particular way in a previous question, respondents did take the opportunity to comment elsewhere in the consultation and relevant views are captured in the analysis.
Level of support for whether an amendment should apply to all public bodies, not just RTPs
4.3 A total of 24 respondents provided a response to question 4 with 14 non-responses, reflecting the way the question had been worded. Fifteen were in favour of extending the amendment to all public bodies and 9 were against.
4.4 All 8 individuals in favour of an amendment in relation to RTPs also favoured this being extended to all public bodies. Patterns for the other respondent types were more mixed, see Table 4.1.
Table 4.1: Responses to question four by respondent type
|Statutory Regional Transport Partnerships||2||1||3|
|Other organisations - Public Bodies (3) and 1 Local Authority licensing board||1||3||0|
Reasons for disagreeing with an amendment to the Code in respect of all public bodies
4.5 The main objection to extending the amendment was on the basis of concern about reducing public trust in Council decision making and making it open to fraud.
4.6 Fife Council were concerned that elected members are also members of a wide range of public bodies and extending the amendment could lead to unreasonable perceptions by the public that a councillor's views on any representation or planning application by such bodies they are involved in is already a 'done deal'.
4.7 The Standards Commission saw a distinction between RTPs and other external bodies with RTPs being more consultative by comparison and other external bodies may have a more direct interest in quasi-judicial or regulatory matters. Their concern was that, if applied to all public bodies, it could blur the distinct roles of a councillor and member of an external body leading to a lowering in public confidence that decisions in quasi-judicial or regulatory matters are made in accordance with the relevant legislation and policy to further either planning or licensing objectives rather than serving the interests of the body.
4.8 It was also suggested that the amendment more generally went beyond the measures necessary to fix the current perceived issue. It was felt to be possible to operate effectively with the Code as currently worded and it was reiterated that such issues should be decided on a case by case basis at a local level rather than a change to the Code.
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The Scottish Government
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