5. Additional comments or suggestions
5.1 Included here are the responses to question six (which invited any other comment about the provisions of the Councillor's Code on declarations of interest as regards councillors who are also members of other bodies) and which were not specific to earlier questions, as well as broader comments made throughout the consultation.
5.2 A range of opinions were offered from those who felt there should be some degree of trust in councillors and that the Code and declarations of interest should not of themselves hinder carrying out of Council business and bar membership of other bodies, to those that were very clear that conflicts of interest should prevent involvement in membership and/or decision-making.
5.3 One RTP pointed out that councillors who sit on planning committees are fully trained and a decision to declare interests where relevant should be at their discretion. A declaration of membership, where no conflict of interest existed, was felt to be overly bureaucratic. There were calls, however, that a record of declarations of interest should include historical or past interests, continue to be updated and added to and an entry only removed if disassociation has been proven. A further suggestion was that conflicts of interest should be extended to include the interests of family members too. It was also expressed that declaration of interests be extended to all organisations a councillor might be a member of (public and private - including subsidiary companies/bodies where the parent company/body interest is already declared), as well as applying it to Community Councils.
5.4 A further suggestion was that specific Codes should apply to public and private bodies.
5.5 The opportunity was taken by a number of respondents to suggest the Scottish Government undertake a wider review of the Code with some highlighting a range of issues that it was felt needed to be addressed. This included calls for making the code simpler and more 'user-friendly'. It was also emphasised that any amendments to the Code must be done with the aim of maintaining public confidence in impartial decision making as well as be supportive to councils in conducting their business as efficiently and openly as possible.
5.6 It was recommended there should be legislation to ensure that councillors acting as a member of any other body have their position and duties as a councillor protected. Specific reference was made by a couple of the local authorities to circumstances relating to councillor membership of Arms-Length External Organisations ( ALEOs) with concern that any amendments that might apply to all public bodies allow for specific exclusion re ALEOs to ensure their duties are not hampered.
5.7 A suggestion was made to appoint more non-councillors on to RTPs and a concern expressed that there are too few people sitting on all the decision making committees.
5.8 One respondent suggested that councillors should have the authority to demand that the RTP co-operate with all transport providers including roads departments rail bus and aircraft transportation, where appropriate, and that the facilities provided allow for integration as seamlessly as possible of all interested parties with interactive and co-ordinated transport facilities.
Email: Justine Geyer, email@example.com
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House