Standards get higher profile

PUBLISHED: 07:58 27 January 2006 | UPDATED: 21:39 28 May 2010

MOST councillors facing allegations of misconduct will, in future, almost certainly have their cases dealt with locally, says a report to Fenland District Council. Mediation could be used more, and it could ensure disagreements are diffused before they t

MOST councillors facing allegations of misconduct will, in future, almost certainly have their cases dealt with locally, says a report to Fenland District Council.

Mediation could be used more, and it could ensure disagreements are "diffused before they turn into full-blown allegations".

It will mean a higher profile for the council's standards committee which will be "at the heart of decision-making within the conduct regime".

Changes in the way misconduct allegations are heard are outlined in a report prepared by the council's monitoring officer, Chucks Golding.

"Such a regime might also give an opportunity for standards committees to spot politically inspired or vexatious complaints, which might mean that unworthy cases could be rejected as soon as possible, but handled with an understanding of local pressures and sensitivities," she said.

She told the cabinet yesterday that the Government was considering the changes which will ensure standards committees investigate and determine most cases.

The Standards Board of England, which has previously investigated all complaints, would be left to adopt "a more strategic, advisory and monitoring role and investigate only serious misconduct allegations".

A more locally based regime would, she says, provide an appropriate way for local knowledge of the authority and its members to be fed into the decision making process; and the proposals should be welcomed as bringing back an appropriate sense of proportion to ethics and standards issues.

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