|14||The Committee received a verbal report by the Legal Services Manager (and Monitoring Officer) on the Localism Act 2011 so far as it related to "standards". In due course it would be necessary to report to Council on future (and new) arrangements but, at this stage, it was considered important to outline the main elements of the Act for Members of the Committee.|
Under the Act, Councils would be required to have a local code of conduct for Members to be based on previously established seven principles of public life - the Nolan principles. The current ten principles and model code would be repealed. It would be for individual councils to set the terms of reference of their standards Committee. Standards for England had now ceased to operate and it was likely that new arrangements would need to be in place by June/July 2012. Regulations under the Act were, however, still awaited.
Councils would need to establish the circumstances under which Members would be required to withdraw from meetings and where dispensations could be given. A new register of interests would need to be established. The Act required the appointment of new independent person(s) with a "consultative" role but these could not be existing independent members for five years after their current appointments ceased.
The ability to impose local sanctions against Members who breached the code was extremely curtailed under the Act and, for the future, breaches could constitute a criminal offence. Non-borough council Members of the Committee would be consulted and kept informed of standards proposals generally as they were developed.