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.
Breaching the Code of Conduct
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 1st 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. The Member will have the opportunity to respond to the complaint. After this, 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.
In deciding whether to conduct an investigation, regard will be given to whether it's in the public interest, taking into account the resources available and whether it's proportionate to the allegations. 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:
- Doing anything which may knowingly cause the Council to breach the Equality Act 2010;
- Bullying or being abusive to any person;
- Intimidating or attempt to intimidate any person who is or is likely to be involved in a complaint;
- Compromising or is likely to compromise the impartiality of those who work for, or on behalf of, the Council.
- Disclosing confidential information.
- Conducting themselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or the Council into disrepute.
- 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
- Improperly using, or authorising the use by others, of the authority's resources.
Complaints must relate to matters where the Member was acting in his official capacity as a Councillor, and not where they were acting in a private capacity.
Specific timescales apply to when the member should respond to the complaint and when the assessment should take place. This process should take approximately one month. The time it takes to investigate the complaint depends on the complexity and circumstances of the complaint.
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 three 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 complain about a councillor
If you believe that a Member may have breached the Code of Conduct please:
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.