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The information leaflet below may be obtained from the Standards Board by telephoning 0800 107 2001, or by email: referrals@standardsboard.co.uk or by post: The Standards Board for England, PO Box 36656 London SE1 0WN.

Types of misconduct that can be investigated include: 

  • discrimination or failing to prevent those who work for the authority from being unbiased

  • revealing information given in confidence

  • failing to declare gifts to the authority's Monitoring Officer 

  • or failing to register financial or other interests.

Every officer involved in a malicious prosecution, or other impropriety such as the deceptions of Wealden's former Chief Executive or senior planning officers, and who fails to report the matter for investigation, become party to the crime as an accessory.  Conversely, it is unlawful to be penalised for blowing the whistle to the appropriate authorities. 

Government calls time on council corruption  Tuesday, 7 April, 1998

 

Mayoral robes: power can corrupt

Town hall corruption will be targeted by a powerful independent body looking after community interests, the government has pledged.  More than 20,000 councillors and two million public sector workers will be answerable to the new Standards Board.  The Local Government Minister, Hilary Armstrong, says the plans will create a new "ethical framework" for local authorities. She says the new body will investigate malpractice and allegations of corruption.

'Donnygate' saga

It will work alongside existing local government auditors and ombudsmen who investigate financial matters and residents' complaints respectively.

The creation of new body comes after a series of embarrassments for the government involving Labour-run councils, most notably the "Donnygate" saga in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.  Under the proposals every council would introduce its own binding code of conduct. The Standards Board would step in to investigate allegations of malpractice considered too serious for a simple ombudsman inquiry. Mrs Armstrong says: "The new ethical framework will be the keystone of modernised local government.

"If people are to value local government they must have a bond of trust with their councillors and their councils. They must be confident that they are helping their communities, not helping themselves."

Spate of scandals

Several members of Hull City Council, which is also Labour-run, are being investigated by both the national party and the police following a long-running political row in the city.  Last year district auditors accused Labour-run Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council of "blatant junketing" after investigating allegations of abuse of office.

Doncaster: blatant junketing

The most famous case of recent years came when district auditor John Magill imposed a surcharge of 31.6m on Dame Shirley Porter and David Weeks, former leader and deputy leader of Conservative-run Westminster City Council after investigating the "homes for votes" scandal.

Councils welcome change

The Local Government Association, the umbrella body representing councils, welcomed the proposals. Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the LGA, said: "Thousands of councillors and two million staff get on with their job every day of delivering public services to the highest standards.

"Misconduct is rare but no misconduct should be tolerated." He said councils would be disappointed ministers had no plans to abolish the surcharge, which some feel discourages people from standing for office.

Sir Norman Fowler, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, said: "Some of the worst problems have arisen in Labour councils which have been under one-party control for year after year.  "In effect they have become one-party states.  "We should draw on the experience of the audit committees which operate in all public companies."

Complain to the Standards Board for England

Councillors are to see an overhaul of the code of conduct which they supposedly adhere to. So far there have been 5,188 complaints concerning councillors to The Standards Board for England, a lot of these complaints (two thirds) are thrown out, but there have been 84 councillors disqualified and a further 19 suspended. Kirkby Times will be publishing this code of conduct and encouraging locals to complain over Councillors they feel are breaking the rules. After all, the odds of your complaint bagging a bad councillor, is a reasonable 50 to 1. Well worth a shot. Most of us would be very happy indeed to see the corrupt get caught and the innocent would welcome a massive 'clean up the council chambers' campaign. Knowsley Council pushed through a dubious CCTV scheme in Northwood, the reasoning would likely be that no-one with anything to hide has anything to fear' Funny how a Council whose CCTV cameras can actually peer into peoples homes does not itself feel inclined to be scrutinised too much itself. Do as we say, not as we do!

You can complain to 'The Standards Board for England' here!

The Standards Board will consider any written allegations it receives that allege a member has breached the Code. If an allegation is referred for investigation, then an Ethical Standards Officer will carry out an independent investigation. If the investigation concludes that a matter is serious enough, they can refer the case to The Adjudication Panel for England. The Adjudication Panel is an independent statutory body who will make a final judgement. They may suspend a member for up to one year, or disqualify them from holding office for up to five years.

The Adjudication Panel for England is here. The link below contains summaries of the cases which have been considered by investigators on behalf of the Standards Board and an outcome achieved.

http://www.standardsboard.co.uk/cases/index.php

 

* THIS SITE IS CONSTANTLY UPDATED AND REVIEWED *

 

With thanks to the Wealden Action Group and other Action Groups across the country for the supply of real case history and supporting documents.

 

*THAT THE PUBLIC MAY KNOW*