Publication - Research and analysis

Councillors' code of conduct revision: consultation analysis

Published: 10 Jun 2021

Analysis of responses to the consultation on possible revisions to the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.

Councillors' code of conduct revision: consultation analysis
Need to review and update the current Code

Need to review and update the current Code

Question 1: Do you agree that there is a need to revise the Councillors’ Code of Conduct?

Forty-six of the 48 respondents (96%) provided an answer to Question 1. Of these, the vast majority (43 respondents, or 90%) of respondents agreed that there is a need to revise the Code. Three respondents (6%) considered that there was no need to revise the Code, and two (4%) did not provide an answer to this question.

The most frequent reason that respondents gave for why the revision is needed was to improve the clarity of the Code. Several respondents felt that the current Code is unclear, confusing and complex to apply. They view the revision as an opportunity to improve the clarity of the Code and the supporting guidance.

“The current Code is densely written, difficult to understand and complicated to apply to specific circumstances without having to find a path through definitions and different inter-dependent sections. It has acquired copious and complicated shades of meaning through the creation and amendment of guidance and advice notes which should be rationalised and the more significant translated into the Code itself, or at least the statutory guidance. It does not properly account for changes of circumstances and context, including the widespread use of different social media platforms and the Article 10 right to political expression.”

Respondents also felt that a lot has changed since 2010 when the Code was last substantially updated and that the existing code is now somewhat outdated.

In particular, respondents noted the rise in importance of social media platforms as a means of communication, and the need for inclusion of new guidance on social media for councillors. Bullying and harassment was another theme where respondents agreed that more up-to-date guidance is needed.

Respondents also noted the increasing complexity of the councillor’s role, and the need for a Code and guidance that reflects this more adequately.

“As set out in the consultation, much has changed across society in the last ten years. The Code should be a living document and reflect those changes and developments in order that it stays relevant. The roles and responsibilities of local government have become increasingly complex and it is essential that there is a clear framework to support Elected Members in fulfilling the different roles that they are required to undertake.”

There was a small number of respondents who felt there was no need to update the Code, or who did not answer the yes/no question but gave a comment instead. Generally these respondents either considered that the existing Code is clear enough, or that the review should have been less wide-ranging and more focused on a smaller number of areas.


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