The onset of COVID-19 and the measures that have been introduced to curb its spread have changed the workings of local government. Remote meetings and decision-making processes have been introduced, but these have not diluted the importance of high standards of conduct of local government elected members.
With more communication taking place remotely and online between members and residents, particularly through social media, there may be more difficult and heated discussions as some seek to express the fear, frustration and heightened emotions they are experiencing at this time. However, abuse, threatening and intimidatory communications continue to be unacceptable, and we have sought to address these issues in the draft code.
The LGA has committed to reviewing the current model member code of conduct, as recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report into Local Government Ethical Standards. The LGA held an event on Civility in Public Life with a range of stakeholders at the end of last year and three consultation workshops at the beginning of this year. Our consultants have also examined examples of good practice, both in local government and other professions. The LGA consultation draft model member code of conduct is the result of this initial work. It is the intention to create additional guidance, working examples and explanatory text. We very much welcome comment on the consultation draft. We would particularly like to know if it stands up to the new ways of working that have been introduced and gives enough of a steer on social media and online activity.
The consultation on the draft member code of conduct will run for 10 weeks from Monday 8 June until Monday 17 August. We hope this will provide officers and members with enough time to reflect on the draft model member code of conduct and provide the LGA with feedback whilst they continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
To facilitate the consultation we have produced an online consultation questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed for both members and officers.
We are also happy to receive narrative responses from councils or stakeholder groups via email ModelCode@local.gov.uk. Please also email here if you have any questions regarding the consultation and/or code of conduct work.
If you are interested in discussing the draft code in more detail, we will be holding a number of webinars over the Summer. The details will be on our LGA events page.
The feedback from the consultation will help us develop a final draft, which will be reviewed by the LGA’s Executive Advisory Board before being presented to the next LGA General Assembly, which we hope will be held in the Autumn of 2020.