Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed) informing members about a consultation being conducted by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, (the Ombudsman) about new draft guidance for elected members on the Code of Conduct.



The Monitoring Officer (MO) guided members through the report. The two versions of the guidance had been produced for: 1- members of principal Council, Fire and Rescue Authority and National Parks, 2- Members of Town, City and Community Councils.

The current Code of Conduct guidance from the ombudsman had last been revised in 2016. The Ombudsman had sought to do a refresh and consultation for its publication prior to the local elections in 2022.


The Ombudsman had released the documents included in the papers and asked for views from members. The content of the revised guidance covered a number of similar aspects with no changes made to certain elements of the current document. The Monitoring Officer guided members through some of the changes that had been noted.

·         The Code had been produced to help and guide members in maintain appropriate standards of Code of Conduct when carrying out duties.

·         Emphasis for members to attend training when provided had been highlighted.

·         Further explanation on the Standards Committee had been included.

·         The introduction of interim reports that can be presented to the President of the Adjudication Panel for Wales. From which an interim case tribunal could take place and interim outcomes pending the outcome of the investigation and the hearing.


The Chair thanked the MO for the briefing of the changes. He stated the use of social media had been observed, in his opinion the dangers of social media should be emphasised more within the report.


Julia Hughes stated the guidance paper had been an accessible read and the use of appropriate examples to aid understanding was a good introduction. It was pleasing to note that the training section had been included in the guidance. The updated document was welcomed.


The MO offered clarity on the role related to elected members on Town, City and Community Councils and County Council and their conduct when they represented the authority. In respect to school governors who was not an elected member would not be covered under the proposed revised guidance document. If an elected member sat on a school governing body, in that role they are seen as a representative of the Council and the Code of Conduct would apply to them. 


The MO confirmed that the majority of complaints received are dissolved and investigated by the Ombudsman due to a number of reasons. Within the guidance an expression of dismay from the Ombudsman on complaints made for political purposes was made. Confirmation that robust testing was adopted when investigating complaints and assessing if a complaint ought to be investigated. It was compulsory for City, Town and Community Council’s to comply with the Code of Conduct.


Lay Member Peter Lamb raised the following points;

·         The title on the first page should include ‘guidance’ in the title,

·         The document referred to ‘reassurance to the public’ it was not clear what reassurance it provided,

·         The word harm had been used on page 23 of the agenda pack, Mr Lamb questioned if it was the most appropriate word to use,

·         The inclusion of the monetary value of £1000 in regard to use of mobile phone. It was suggested it might be best to leave out the monetary amount.


The MO thanked the Lay Member for his thoughts. In response to the points raised the MO confirmed he agreed with the point of including the word guidance within the title and would pass on the inclusion to the Ombudsman. In response to the other points raised the reassurance to the public was to emphasise the existence of the Code of Conduct provided comfort that a procedure was in place for elected members to adhere to.

The use of the word harm had been included in the broad sense to include all aspects of harm including physical harm, emotional harm, economic harm, career harm or reputational harm. It was the MO understanding the word had been used to cover all these aspects.

The comment on the monetary value of mobile phone use, would be related back to the team for consideration.


Following the discussion, the MO noted the following;

·         The guidance was accessible enhanced document

·         Pleased to note the emphasis on training

·         The inclusion of the importance of seeking advice from the MO in any doubt

·         More emphasis on the concerns around the use of social media

·         To include ‘guidance’ on the title page

·         To expand or re-examine the use of the word harm

·         The monetary amount included may be worth considering omitting from the notes.


The MO confirmed the main points of the City, Town and Communities guidance had remained the same.



RESOLVED that the committee note the contents of the report and comment as noted above with considerations to the draft guidance.


Supporting documents: