The Council is committed to promoting the highest standards of conduct by Members and has adopted a Code of Conduct for all Members as part of its constitution.
The Council has also established a Standards Committee responsible for promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Members of the Council - Terms of Reference of Standards Committee (para 35 of Section 3 of Part 3 of Constitution)
The Code of Conduct is underpinned by principles of
- Honesty and integrity
- Personal Judgement
- Respect for others
- A duty to uphold the law
The Standards Committee has a key role in supporting and training Members in compliance with the Code of Conduct but also may have a role in authorising investigations for potential breaches of the Code of Conduct and enforcing its provisions.
The Standards Committee is comprosed of eight Elected Members and a representative from each of the Haigh and Shevington Parish Councils.
The current Membership is:
- Councillor K Aldred
- Councillor Brierley
- Councillor Dewhurst
- Councillor Ellis
- Councillor Halliwell (Chairman)
- Councillor Holland
- Councillor Sharratt
- Councillor Walker
- Parish Councillor Chadwick
- Parish Councillor Thomson
The Committee is advised by the Council’s Monitoring Officer, John Mitchell (Head of Service - Legal and Risk).
Local authorities are responsible for operating a locally based system for the initial assessment of complaints that a Member may have breached the Code of Conduct. From 1 July 2012, the Monitoring Officer assesses complaints in consultation with an Independent Person. This function was previously undertaken by the Standards Assessment Sub Committee.
Anyone who believes that a Member of the Council may have breached the Code of Conduct can make a complaint to the Monitoring Officer. Each complaint will be assessed to establish whether it falls within the Standards Committee's jurisdiction. A decision will be made on whether any action should be taken either by way of investigation or alternative measure. This does not mean that the Monitoring Officer has made up his/her mind about the allegation, it means that the he/she has concluded that the alleged conduct, if proven, may amount to a failure to comply with the Code of Conduct.
The only types of complaints that can investigated, are those which involve an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct, which includes a Member:-
(a) doing anything which may knowingly cause the Council to breach the Equality Act 2010;
(b) bullying or being abusive to any person;
(c) intimidating or attempt to intimidate any person who is or is likely to be involved in a complaint;
(d) compromising or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, the Council.
(e) disclosing confidential information.
(f) conducting themselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or the Council into disrepute.
(g) using or attempting to their position as a Member improperly to confer on or secure for themselves or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage
(h) improperly using, or authorising the use by others, of the authority's resources
The Independent Person
The Localism Act 2011 requires the Council as part of its arrangements for dealing with complaints to appoint at least one Independent Person.
The Independent Person is someone at arm’s length from the Council who, in the event of an allegation of breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct, will be available to be consulted by both the Monitoring officer, and the Member who is the subject of the allegation, before a decision is made by the Monitoring Officer on an allegation.
Wigan Council has appointed two Independent Persons owing to the fact that there may be conflicts of interest where both the Council and the subject member wish to consult them.
How to make a Complaint
If you believe that a Member may have breached the Code of Conduct please submit your complaint in writing, together with any supporting documents, to:-
The Head of Service Legal and Risk (Monitoring Officer)
Wigan WN1 1YN
Telephone: 01942 827026
Fax: 01942 827093
A guidance note on How to make a complaint about a breach by a Member (.pdf, 41kb) has been prepared – and a Complaints Form (.pdf, 38kb) should be used.
Please note that your identity and details of your complaint will be disclosed to the subject Member. This information will only be withheld in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Monitoring Officer. If you consider that the information should be withheld, please indicate the reason(s) with your complaint.