Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

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Code of Conduct for Members

Introduction

This code applies to you as a member of this authority when you act in your role as a member and it is your responsibility to comply with the provisions of this Code.

You are a representative of this authority and the public will view you as such therefore your actions impact on how the authority as a whole is viewed and your actions can have both positive and negative impacts on the authority.

This Code is based upon the “Nolan Principals-the seven principles of public life” which are set out at Appendix 1.

Interpretation

In this Code:-

“Meeting” means any meeting of:

  1. the Authority;
  2. the Executive Leadership Board of the authority;
  3. any of the authority’s or its executives committees, sub-committees, joint committees or other committees;

whether or not the press and public are excluded from the meeting in question by virtue of a resolution of members

“Member” includes a co-opted member and an appointed member.

General Obligations

  1. When acting in your role as a member of the authority:

    1.1 DO treat others with respect

    1.2 DO NOT conduct yourself in a manner which is contrary to the Authority’s duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct of members

    1.3 DO NOT disclose information given to you in confidence by anyone, or information acquired by you which you believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature, except where-
  2. (i) you have the consent of a person authorised to give it;

    (ii) you are required by law to do so;

    (iii) the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional legal advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or

    (iv) the disclosure is-

    (a) reasonable and in the public interest; and
    (b) made in good faith and in compliance with the reasonable requirements of the authority; and
    (c) you have consulted the Monitoring Officer prior to its release

    1.4 DO NOT prevent another person from gaining access to information to which that person is entitled by law.
  3. When using or authorising the use by others of the resources of the authority-

    2.1. DO act in accordance with the authority’s reasonable requirements including the requirements of the authority’s ITC policy and the policies (attached to the Authority’s Constitution), copies of which have been provided to you and which you are deemed to have read;

    2.2. DO make sure that such resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes); and

    2.3. DO have regard to any applicable Local Authority Code of Publicity made under the Local Government Act 1986


  4. Interests


  5. As a public figure, your public role may, at times, overlap with your personal and/or professional life and interests however when performing your public role as a member, DO act solely in terms of the public interest and DO NOT act in a manner to gain financial or other material benefits for yourself, your family, your friends, your employer or in relation to your business interests.
  6. You are required to register “pecuniary and other interests” (subject to these not being sensitive). The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 provide for the interests that must be disclosed and these are laid out in Appendix 3 of this Code) Failure to declare or register a pecuniary interest will be a criminal offence if this is done without a reasonable excuse. If you knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information about a pecuniary interest this will also be a criminal offence.
  7. There will be no requirement for you to declare or register any gifts and hospitality; (subject to any future Regulations) however DO NOT accept any gifts in excess of £50.00 (fifty pounds).

    Disclosure and participation


  8. At a meeting where such issues arise, DO declare any personal and/or professional interests relating to your public duties and DO take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
     
  9. Certain types of decisions, including those relating to a permission, licence, consent or registration for yourself, your friends, your family members, your employer or your business interests, are so closely tied to your personal and/or professional life that your ability to make a decision in an impartial manner in your role as a member may be called into question and in turn raise issues about the validity of the decision of the authority. DO NOT become involved in these decisions any more than a member of the public in the same personal and/or professional position as yourself is able to be and DO NOT vote in relation to such matters.
  10. DO NOT improperly use knowledge gained solely as a result of your role as a member for the advancement of yourself, your friends, your family members, your employer or your business interests.

    Pre-determination or bias

  11. Where you have been involved in campaigning in your political role on an issue which does not impact on your personal and/or professional life you should not be prohibited from participating in a decision in your political role as member, however DO NOT place yourself under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence you in the performance of your official duties.

  12. When making a decision, DO consider the matter with an open mind and on the facts before the meeting at which the decision is to be taken.

Where the decision referred to in Clause 7 above relates to one of the functions of the authority set out below, and the condition which follows that function does not apply to you when making that decision, you may participate in the decision:

  1. housing, where you are a tenant of your authority unless those functions relate particularly to your tenancy or lease;
  2. school meals or school transport and travelling expenses, where you are a parent or guardian of a child in full time education, or a parent governor of a school unless it relates particularly to the school which the child attends,
  3. statutory sick pay under Part XI of the School Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, where you are in receipt of, or are entitled to the receipt of such pay;
  4. an allowance, payment or indemnity given to members;
  5. any ceremonial honour given to members; and
  6. setting council tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992  

The Seven Principles of Public Life

Selflessness

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Integrity

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.

Objectivity

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit

Accountability

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Openness

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Leadership

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.  

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

You must declare

  1. Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation
    Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.


  2. Sponsorship
    Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the Authority) made or provided within the previous 12 months in respect of any expenses incurred by a Member in carrying out duties as a member, or towards the Member’s election expenses. This includes any payment or financial benefit from a Trade Union.
  3. Contracts

    Any contact made between the Authority and

    1. the Member
    2. their spouse or civil partner
    3. a person living with the Members as husband or wife, or
    4. someone with whom the Members is living as if they were civil partners and the Members is aware that the other person has an interest
      or
    5. a body in which the Member or any other person listed above has a beneficial interest

    under which goods or services are to be provided or works executed and which has not been fully discharged.

  4. Land
    Any beneficial interest in land which is within the Authority’s area.

  5. Licences
    Any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the Authority’s area for a month or longer.

  6. Corporate Tenancies
    Any tenancy where, to the Member’s knowledge, the landlord is the Authority and the tenant is a body in which the Members or one of persons mentioned above has a beneficial interest.
  7. Securities
    Any beneficial interest in securities of a body where the Member knows that the body has a place of business or land in the Authority’s area and the total nominal value of the securities is more than £25,000 (or one hundredth of the issued share capital).

Procedure for dealing with allegations under the Code of Conduct

Stage 1

  1. When a complaint is received (using the existing complaint form) based on the new adopted Code of Conduct:
    1. Complaints should be directed to the Monitoring Officer
    2. The Monitoring Officer must acknowledge the complaint within 2 working days of receipt.

  2. An Independent Person (IP) must be involved in the complaint investigation as required by the Localism Act 2011 section 28(7). This will be arranged by the Monitoring Officer.

    Stage 2


  3. Standards matters shall be within the terms of reference of the Audit sub Committee and if a complaint is received it will firstly be considered by this sub committee.

  4. The Monitoring Officer or Deputy shall consider the complaint with the IP and provide a report for the Audit Sub Committee which details:
    1. Details of the complaint
    2. Considerations of the complaint and whether a full investigation and hearing may be required.
    3. Observations of the IP
    4. Recommendations to the sub-committee as to next steps.
    5. The Audit Sub Committee will be presented with this report and the IP will attend the meeting along with the report author, to give any views arising in respect of the complaint.

  5. The report will not be open to inspection by the public under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12A.

  6. The Audit sub Committee will determine
    1. If the complaint is upheld or;
    2. If the compliant requires further investigation or;
    3. If the complaint not upheld
    If the complaint is upheld.

  7. The Monitoring Officer or Deputy will provide a report for the Appeals Committee recommending the Sanction proposed by the Audit Sub Committee. Sanctions available are mainly for admonishment of a Member , training and/or development or where pecuniary or other interests have not been declared this could constitute a criminal offence.

    If the complaint is not upheld.
  8. The Audit Sub Committee must gives its reasons for not upholding a complaint and can recommend any further/other action it considers might be helpful (for example that the Authority/CLG produces guidance).

  9. The Monitoring Officer or Deputy will then writes to both the complainant and the Member concerned with reasons/other recommendations.

  10. The complainant may appeal to the Appeals Committee by completing an appeal from and sending this to the Monitoring Officer who will then arrange for a report to be drafted to the Appeals Committee.

    If the complaint requires further investigation.

  11. The Monitoring Officer/Deputy will make arrangements for an investigation to be undertaken within 28 days from the date of the Audit Sub Committee meeting. The investigation must involve the IP and must also provide information from the Member complained of along with the reasons provided from the Audit Sub Committee.

  12. A meeting of the Appeals Committee will be convened within the next 14 working days to hear the complaint. The complainant, the Members concerned and the IP will be invited to give their views.

  13. The meeting will be held in private and the complainant and the member must be given the opportunity to present their case.

  14. The Appeals Committee will make its decision giving full reasons, as to whether the Member has or has not complied with the Code of Conduct. The outcome will then be provided in writing within the next 7 working days, to both the complainant and Member concerned.

  15. If the complaint is upheld, the Appeals Committee will decide on the appropriate sanction. The decision of the Appeals Committee will be final.


  16. Stage 3:


    Appeals If an appeal is received under Stage 2 (above)

  17. 16. An extraordinary meeting of the Appeals Committee will be convened within the next 14 working days to hear the appeal. The complainant, the Members concerned and the IP will be invited to give their views.

  18. The meeting will be held in private and the complainant and the member must be given the opportunity to present their case.

  19. The Appeals Committee will make its decision giving full reasons, as to whether the Member has or has not complied with the Code of Conduct. The outcome will then be provided in writing within the next 7 working days, to both the complainant and Member concerned.

  20. If the appeal is upheld, the Appeals Committee will then decide on the appropriate sanction.

  21. The decision of the Appeals Committee will be final.

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