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Information

Items
No. Item

Contents

Contents

1                    Councillors & Officers Attending and Participating in Scrutiny Protocol

2                    City and County of Swansea Members Code of Conduct (principles)

3                    Officers’ Code of Conduct

4                    Officer/Councillor Relations Protocol

5                    Petitions Procedure

6                    Hospitality Procedure

 

1.

Councillors & Officers Attending and Participating in Scrutiny Protocol

#ScrutinyProtocol

1                    The purpose of Overview & Scrutiny is to review Council policy and service delivery while taking into account the performance of the authority. In doing so, it is expected that overview & scrutiny members will make constructive recommendations to Council that are based on factual findings.

 

2                    Scrutiny is not about fostering a blame culture or assigning unfair criticism. To be effective, it must have the ability to work in an environment that supports the principles of service improvement. To assist this approach, it is considered necessary that Overview & Scrutiny members should:

 

a)                  undertake their roles with due diligence and satisfy themselves that all pertinent issues are covered;

b)                  be able to consider themselves unfettered by party political discipline;

c)                  use the powers of scrutiny properly and behave in a manner that reflects the trust placed in them by electors;

d)                  not permit personal agendas or differences in political complexion to obscure an effective overview & scrutiny process;

e)                  refrain from public and personal criticism of other members or officers.

 

3                    Cabinet Members and Officers should:

 

a)                  Ensure their availability to attend Overview & Scrutiny   Boards as requested;

b)                  Co-operate with Overview & Scrutiny Boards in arriving at conclusions to their investigations;

c)                  Provide all necessary information that will assist in the effectiveness of the overview & scrutiny process.

 

 

2.

City and County of Swansea Members Code of Conduct (Principles) pdf icon PDF 30 KB

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Interpretation

 

1                    In this Code:

 

co-opted member” (“aelod cyfetholedig”), in relation to the authority, means a person who is not a member of the authority but who

 

a)                  is a member of any committee or sub-committee of the authority, or

b)                  is a member of, and represents the authority on, any joint committee or joint sub-committee of the authority, and

c)                  who is entitled to vote on any question which falls to be decided at any meeting of that committee or sub-committee;

 

2                    “member” (“aelod”) includes a co-opted member; and

 

3                    “relevant authority” (“awdurdod perthnasol”) means

 

a)                  a county council,

b)                  a county borough council,

c)                  a community council,

d)                  a fire authority constituted by a combination scheme under the . Fire Services Act 1947, and

e)                  a National Park authority established under section 63 of the Environment Act 1995.

 

The Principles

 

4                    Selflessness

 

Members must act solely in the public interest.  They must never use their position as members to improperly confer advantage on themselves or to improperly confer advantage or disadvantage on others.

 

5                    Honesty

 

Members must declare any private interests relevant to their public duties and take steps to resolve any conflict in a way that protects the public interest.

 

 

6                    Integrity and Propriety

 

Members must not put themselves in a position whether their integrity is called into question by any financial or other obligation to individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their duties.  Members must on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

 

7                    Duty to Uphold the Law

 

Members must act to uphold the law and act on all occasions in accordance with the trust that the public has placed in them.

 

8                    Stewardship

 

In discharging their duties and responsibilities members must ensure that their authority’s resources are used both lawfully and prudently.

 

9                    Objectivity in Decision-making

 

In carrying out their responsibilities including making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, members must make decisions on merit.  Whilst members must have regard to the professional advice of officers and may properly take account of the views of others, including their political groups, it is their responsibility to decide what view to take and, if appropriate, how to vote on any issue.

 

10                 Equality and Respect

 

Members must carry out their duties and responsibilities with due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, age or religion, and show respect and consideration for others.

 

11                 Openness

 

Members must be as open as possible about all their actions and those of their authority.  They must seek to ensure that disclosure of information is restricted only in accordance with the law.

 

12                 Accountability

 

Members are accountable to the electorate and the public generally for their actions and for the way they carry out their responsibilities as a member.  They must be prepared to submit themselves to such overview & scrutiny as is appropriate to their responsibilities.

 

13                 Leadership

 

Members must promote and support these principles by leadership and example so as to promote public confidence in their role and in the authority.  They must respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory officers and its other employees.

 

The Model Code of Conduct

 

 

3.

Officers' Code of Conduct

Bookmark 3

1                    Officers Code of Conduct

 

a)                  The National Assembly for Wales made Order 2001/2280 The Code of Conduct (Qualifying Local Government Employees) (Wales) Order 2001 in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by sections 82(2) and 105(1) of the Local Government Act 2000[1].  This order came into force on 28th July 2001.  This Order applies to the City and County of Swansea.

 

b)                  This Order contains a code as regards the conduct which is expected of a qualifying employee of the City and County of Swansea.

 

c)                  A “qualifying employee” means an employee of the authority other than an employee falling within any description of employee specified in regulations 2001/2278.

 

2                    General Principles

 

The public is entitled to expect the highest standards of conduct from all qualifying employees [6] of relevant authorities[7]. The role of such employees is to serve their employing authority in providing advice, implementing its policies, and delivering services to the local community. In performing their duties, they must act with integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity.

 

3                    Accountability

 

Qualifying employees of relevant authorities work for their employing authority and serve the whole of that authority. They are accountable to, and owe a duty to that authority. They must act in accordance with the principles set out in this Code, recognising the duty of all public sector employees to discharge public functions reasonably and according to the law.

 

4                    Political Neutrality

 

Qualifying employees of relevant authorities, whether or not politically restricted [8], must follow every lawfully expressed policy of the authority and must not allow their own personal or political opinions to interfere with their work. Where qualifying employees are politically restricted  (by reason of the post they hold, the nature of the work they do, or the salary they are paid), they must comply with any statutory restrictions on their political activities.

 

5                    Relations with Members, the public and other employees

 

a)                  Mutual respect between qualifying employees and members is essential to good local government, and working relationships should be kept on a professional basis.

 

b)                  Qualifying employees of relevant authorities should deal with the public, members  and other employees sympathetically, efficiently, and without bias.

 

 

6                    Equality

 

Qualifying employees of relevant authorities must comply with policies relating to equality issues, as agreed by the authority, in addition to the requirements of the law.

 

7                    Stewardship

 

Qualifying employees of relevant authorities must ensure that they use public funds entrusted to them in a responsible and lawful manner, and must not utilise property, vehicles or other facilities of the authority for personal use unless authorised to do so.

 

8                    Personal Interests

Whilst qualifying employees’ private lives are their own concern, they must not allow their private interests to conflict with their public duty. They must not misuse their official position or information acquired in the course of their employment to further their private interests, or the interests or others. In particular, they must comply with:

 

a)                  Any rules of their relevant authority on the registration and declaration by employees of financial and non-financial interests;

 

b)                  Any rules of their relevant authority on the declaration by employees of hospitality or gifts offered to or received by them, from any person or organisation doing or seeking to do business, or otherwise benefiting or seeking to benefit from a relationship with the authority. Qualifying employees must not accept benefits from a third party unless authorised to do so by their relevant authority.

 

9                    Whistleblowing

 

In the event that a qualifying employee becomes aware of activities which that employee believes to be illegal, improper, unethical or otherwise inconsistent with this Code, the employee should report the matter, acting in accordance with the employee’s rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, and with the relevant authority’s confidential reporting Procedure, or any other Procedure designed for this purpose.

 

10                 Treatment of Information

Openness in the dissemination of information and decision making should be the norm in relevant authorities. However, certain information may be confidential or sensitive and therefore not appropriate for a wide audience. Where confidentiality is necessary to protect the privacy or other rights of individuals or bodies, information should not be released  to anyone other than a member, relevant authority employee or other person who is entitled  to receive it, or needs to have access to it for the proper discharge of their functions. Nothing in this Code can be taken as overriding existing statutory or common law obligations to keep certain information confidential, or to divulge certain information.

 

11                 Appointment of Staff

 

Qualifying employees of relevant authorities involved in the recruitment and appointment of staff must ensure that appointments are made on the basis of merit. In order to avoid any possible accusation of bias, such employees must not be involved in any appointment, or any other decisions relating to discipline, promotion or pay and conditions for any other employee, or prospective employee, to whom they are related, or with whom they have a close personal relationship outside work.

 

12                 Investigations by Monitoring Officers

 

Where a Monitoring Officer is undertaking an investigation in accordance with regulations made under section 73(1) of the Local Government Act 2000(9) a qualifying employee must comply with any requirement made by that Monitoring Officer in connection with such an investigation.

 

13                 Non-Qualifying Local Government Employees

 

a)                  The National Assembly for Wales made Regulations 2001/2278 The Code of Conduct (Non-Qualifying Local Government Employees) (Wales) Regulations 2001 in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by Sections 82(8) and (9) and 105(1) of the Local Government Act 2000[1].  These Regulations came into force on 28th July 2001.

 

b)                  This Regulation may be cited as the Code of Conduct (Non-Qualifying Local Government Employees) (Wales) Regulations 2001 and came into force on 28th July 2001.

 

c)                  Under this Regulation the Code of Conduct Does not apply to Teachers and Firefighters within the meaning of Section 82(8) of the Local Government Act 2000 and further defined in Regulation 2001/2278.

 

 

4.

Officer/Councillor Relations Protocol

Bookmark 4

Introduction and Principles

 

1                   The purpose of this Protocol is to guide Members and Officers of the Council in their relations with one another in such a way as to ensure the smooth running of the Council.

 

2                   Given the variety and complexity of such relations, this Protocol Does not seek to be either prescriptive or comprehensive.  It simply offers guidance on some of the issues which most commonly arise.  It is hoped, however, that the approach which it adopts to these issues will serve as a guide to dealing with other circumstances.

 

3                   This Protocol is to a large extent a written statement of current practice and convention.  It seeks to promote greater clarity and certainty. If the Protocol is followed it should ensure that Members receive objective and impartial advice and that Officers are protected from accusations of bias and any undue influence from Members.

 

4                   It also seeks to reflect the principles underlying the respective Codes of Conduct which apply to Members and Officers.  The shared object of these codes is to enhance and maintain the integrity (real and perceived) of local government and the Codes, therefore, demand very high standards of personal conduct.

 

5                   This Protocol is a local extension of the Members’ and Employees’ Codes of Conduct.  Consequently, a breach of the provisions of this Protocol may also constitute a breach of those Codes.

 

6                   This Protocol should be read in conjunction with the Members’ and Employees’ Codes of Local Government Conduct, the Council’s Constitution and any guidance issued by the Standards and Governance Committee and/or Monitoring Officer.

 

General Points

 

7                   Both Councillors and Officers are servants of the public and they are indispensable to one another.  But their responsibilities are distinct.  Councillors are responsible to the electorate and serve only so long as their term of office lasts.  Officers are responsible to the Council.  Their job is to give advice to Councillors and the Council, and to carry out the Council’s works under the direction and control of the Council, the Executive, their Committees and Sub Committees.

 

8                   At the heart of the Code, and this Protocol, is the importance of mutual respect.  Member/Officer relationships are to be conducted in a positive and constructive way.  Therefore, it is important that any dealings between Members and Officers should observe standards of courtesy and that neither party should seek to take unfair advantage of their position or seek to exert undue influence on the other party.

 

9                   Inappropriate relationships can be inferred from language/style.  To protect both Members and Officers, Officers should address Members as ‘Councillor XX/Mr or Madam Lord Mayor/Sheriff’ save where circumstances clearly indicate that a level of informality is appropriate, e.g. a one to one between a Head of Service and their respective Cabinet Member.

 

10                A Member should not raise matters relating to the conduct or capability of an Officer in a manner that in incompatible with the objectives of this Protocol. This is a long-standing tradition in public service.  An Officer has no means of responding to such criticisms in public. If a Member feel s/he has not been treated with proper respect, courtesy or has any concern about the conduct of capability of an Officer, and fails to resolve it through direct discussion with the Officer s/he should raise the matter with the respective Head of Service of the Division.  The Head of Service will then look into the facts and report back to the Member.  If the Member continues to feel concern, the s/he should report the facts to the Corporate Director who heads the Directorate concerned, or if, after doing so, is still dissatisfied should raise the issue with the Chief Executive who will look into the matter afresh.  Any action taken against an Officer in respect of a complaint, will be in accordance with provisions of the Council’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures.

 

11                An Officer should not raise with a Member matters relating to the conduct or capability of another Officer or to the internal management of a Section/Division/Directorate at or in a manner that is incompatible with the overall objectives of this Protocol.

 

12                Where an Officer feels that s/he has not been properly treated with respect and courtesy by a Member s/he should raise the matter with his/her Head of Service, Corporate Director or the Chief Executive as appropriate, especially if they do not feel able to discuss it directly with the Member concerned.  In these circumstances the Head of Service, Corporate Director or Chief Executive will take appropriate action either by approaching the individual Member and/or group leader or by referring the matter to the Monitoring Officer in the context of the Standards Committee considering the complaint.

 

Officer Support to Members - General Points

 

13                Officers are responsible for day-to-day managerial and operational decisions within the authority and will provide support to both the Executive and all Councillors in their several areas.

 

14                Certain statutory officers - the Chief Executive, the Monitoring Officer and the Chief Finance Officer - have specific roles.  These are addressed in the Constitution.  Their roles need to be understood and respected by all Members.

 

15                The following key principles reflect the way in which the officer core generally relates to Members:

 

a)                 all officers are employed by, and accountable to the authority as a whole;

b)                 support from officers is needed for all the authority’s functions including Full Council, Overview and Scrutiny, the Executive, individual Members representing their communities etc.

c)                  day-to-day managerial and operational decisions should remain the responsibility of the Chief Executive and other officers;

d)                 the authority will seek to avoid potential conflicts of interest for officers arising from the separation of the Executive and Overview and Scrutiny role; and

e)                 all Officers will be provided with training and development to help them support the various Member roles effectively and to understand the new structures.

 

16                On occasion, a decision may be reached which authorises named Officers to take action between meetings following consultation with a Member or Members. It must be recognised that it is the Officer, rather than the Member or Members, who takes the action and it is the Officer who is accountable for it.

 

17                Finally, It must be remembered that Officers within a Division or Directorate are accountable to their Head of Service and Corporate Director and that whilst Officers should always seek to assist a Member, they must not, in so doing, go beyond the bounds of whatever authority they have been given by their Head of Service or Corporate Director.

 

Officer Support: Members and Party Groups

 

18                It must be recognised by all Officers and Members that in discharging their duties and responsibilities, Officers serve the Council as a whole and not any political group, combination of groups or any individual Member of the Council.

 

19                There is now statutory recognition for party groups and it is common practice for such groups to give preliminary consideration to matter of Council business in advance of such matters being considered by the relevant Council decision making body.  Officers may properly be called upon to support and contribute to such deliberations by party groups but must at all times maintain political neutrality.  All Officers must, in their dealings with political groups and individual Members, treat them in a fair and even-handed manner.

 

20                The support provided by Officers can take many forms.  Whilst in practice such Officer support is likely to be in most demand from whichever party group is for the time being in control of the Council, such support is available to all party groups.

 

21                Certain points must, however, be clearly understood by all those participating in this type of process, Members and Officers alike.  In particular:

 

a)                 Officer support must not extend beyond providing information and advice in relation to matters of Council business.  Officers must not be involved in advising on matters of party business.  The observance of this distinction will be assisted if Officers are not present at meetings or parts of meetings, when matters of party business are to be discussed;

b)                 party group meetings, whilst they form part of the preliminaries to Council decision making, are not empowered to make decisions on behalf of the Council.  Conclusions reached at such meetings do not therefore rank as Council decisions and it is essential that they are not interpreted or acted upon as such; and

c)                  similarly, where Officers provide information and advice to a party group meeting in relation to a matter of Council business, this cannot act as a substitute for providing all necessary information and advice to the relevant Committee or Sub-Committee when the matter in question is considered.

 

22                Officers shall exercise special care when attending and/or giving advice to Party Group Meetings.  Party Group Meetings are likely to include persons who are not Members of the Council.  Such persons are not bound by the National Code of Local Government Conduct (in particular, the provisions concerning the declarations of interests and confidentiality).

 

23                Officers must respect the confidentiality of any party group discussions at which they are present in the sense that they should not relay the content of any such discussion to another party group.

 

24                Whilst any Member may ask a relevant Head of Service, Programme Manager, Corporate Director or the Chief Executive for written factual information about a Directorate or service, such requests must be reasonable and not seek information relating, for instance, to case work of a similar nature, e.g. Social Services, employment etc.  Requests will be met subject to any overriding legal considerations (which will be determined by the Chief Legal Officer), or if the recipient of any request considers the cost of providing the information requested or the nature of the request to be unreasonable.  If a Member requesting such information is dissatisfied by such a response s/he should raise the matter in the first place with the relevant Corporate Director, and if still dissatisfied should raise the matter with the Chief Executive who will discuss the issue with the relevant Group Leader(s).

 

25                In relation to budget proposals:

 

a)                 the Administration shall be entitled to confidential discussions with Officers regarding options and proposals.  These will remain confidential until determined by the Administration or until published in advance of Committee/Council meetings, whichever is the earlier; and

b)                 the opposition groups shall also be entitled to confidential discussions with Officers to enable them to formulate alternative budget proposals.  These will remain confidential until determined by the respective opposition groups or until published in advance of Committee/Council meetings, whichever is the earlier.

 

26                It must not be assumed by any party group or Member that any Officer is supportive of any policy or strategy developed because of that Officer’s assistance in the formulation of that policy or strategy.

 

27                Any particular cases of difficulty or uncertainty in this area of Officer advice to party groups should be raised with the Chief Executive who will discuss them with the relevant group leader(s).

 

Officer Support - the Executive

 

28                It is clearly important that there should be a close working relationship between Executive Members and the Officers who support and/or interact with them.  However, such relationships should never be allowed to become so close, or appear to be so close, as to bring into question the Officer’s ability to deal impartially with other Members and other party groups.

 

29                Whilst Executive Members will routinely be consulted as part of the process of drawing up proposals for consideration or the agenda for a forthcoming meeting, it must be recognised that in some situations an Officer will be under a professional duty to submit a report.  Similarly, a Head of Service or other senior Officer will always be fully responsible for the contents of any report submitted in his/her name.  This means that any such report will be amended only where the amendment reflects the professional judgement of the author of the report.  This is to be distinguished from a situation where there is a value judgement to be made.  Any issues arising between an Executive Member and a Head of Service in this area should be referred to the Chief Executive for resolution in conjunction with the Leader of the Council.

 

30                The Executive and its members have wide ranging leadership roles.  They will:

 

a)                 lead the community planning process and the search for Best Value, with input and advice from Overview and Scrutiny Committees, area committees and any other persons as appropriate;

b)                 lead the preparation of the local authority’s policies and budget;

c)                  take in-year decisions on resources and priorities, together with other stakeholders and partners in the local community, to deliver and implement the budget and policies decided by the Full Council; and

d)                 be the focus for forming partnerships with other local public, private, voluntary and community sector organisations to address local needs.

 

31                Where functions which are the responsibility of the Executive are delegated to Officers or other structures outside the Executive, the Executive will nevertheless remain accountable to the Council, through Overview and Scrutiny Committees, for the discharge of those functions. That is to say, the Executive will be held to account for both its decision to delegate a function and the way that the function is being carried out.

 

32                Under Executive Arrangements, individual Members of the Executive will, for the first time, be allowed to formally take decisions.  The Executive and Cabinet members must satisfy themselves that they are clear what exactly they can and cannot do.

 

33                The Council has put in place mechanisms/protocols which ensure that (as with the Council, its Committees and Sub Committees, and the Executive and its Committees) an individual Executive Member seeks advice from relevant Officers before taking a decision within her or his delegated authority.  This includes taking legal advice, financial advice and professional officer advice (particularly about contractual matters) as well as consulting the Monitoring Officer where there is doubt about vires.

 

34                Decisions taken by individual Members of the Executive give rise to legal and financial obligations in the same way as decisions taken collectively.  Therefore, Members of the Executive should always be aware of legal and financial liabilities (consulting the Monitoring Officer and Chief Finance Officer as appropriate) which will arise from their decisions.  To ensure effective leadership for the local authority and the communities it serves, there are arrangements to ensure co-ordination of and having responsibility for Executive decisions including those made by individuals.

 

35                Officers will continue to work for and serve the local authority as a whole.  Nevertheless, as the majority of functions will be the responsibility of the Executive, it is likely that in practice many Officers will be working to the Executive for most of their time.  The Executive must respect the political neutrality of the Officers.  Officers must ensure that, even when they are predominantly supporting the Executive, that their political neutrality is not compromised.

 

36                In organising support for the Executive, there is a potential for tension between Chief Officers and Cabinet Members with portfolios.  All Members and Officers need to be constantly aware of the possibility of such tensions arising and both Officers and Members need to work together to avoid such tensions and conflicts existing or being perceived.

 

Officer Support - Scrutiny

 

37                It is not scrutiny’s role to act as a disciplinary tribunal in relation to the actions of Members or Officers. Neither is it the role of Officers to become involved in what would amount to disciplinary investigations on a Panel’s behalf.  This is the Chief Executive’s function alone in relation to staff, the Monitoring Officer’s and the Standards and Governance Committee as regards the conduct of Members.  This means:

 

a)                 Scrutiny’s questioning should not be directed to the conduct of individuals, not in the sense of establishing the facts about what occurred in the making of decisions or implementing of Council policies, but with the implication of allocating criticism or blame;

b)                 In these circumstances, it is for the Chief Executive to institute a formal enquiry, and scrutiny may ask (but not require) him to do so.

 

38                Scrutiny should not act as a ‘court of appeal’ against decisions or to pursue complaints by individuals (Councillors, Officers or members of the public) as other Procedures exist for this.  These are internal, e.g. the Corporate Complaints Procedure and external/statutory, e.g. Public Services Ombudsman for Wales or appeal to the Courts.  That said:

 

a)                 Scrutiny may investigate the manner in which decisions are made but should not pass judgements on the merits of a decision in individual cases;

b)                 they can comment, however, on the merits of a particular policy affecting individuals.

 

39                It would be unfair to invite someone to appear before scrutiny without telling them in general terms what they will be asked, or not giving them adequate time to prepare.  Scrutiny ought to provide written questions (‘Indicative Topics’).  In addition, speakers ought to be told the general line that further questioning is likely to take.  Questioning should not stray outside the subject area that the committee/panel had previously indicated.

 

40                The Scrutiny Handbook contains guidelines as to the Procedure at Evidence Meetings, and guidance for Members and Officers.

 

Protocol for Councillors and Officers Attending and Participating in Scrutiny

 

41                The purpose of scrutiny is to review Council policy and service delivery while taking into account the performance of the authority. In doing so, it is expected that scrutiny members will make constructive recommendations to Council that are based on factual findings.

42                Scrutiny is not about fostering a blame culture or assigning unfair criticism. To be effective, it must have the ability to work in an environment that supports the principles of service improvement. To assist this approach, it is considered necessary that scrutiny members should:

 

a)                 undertake their roles with due diligence and satisfy themselves that all pertinent issues are covered;

b)                 be able to consider themselves unfettered by party political discipline;

c)                  use the powers of scrutiny properly and behave in a manner that reflects the trust placed in them by electors;

d)                 not permit personal agendas or differences in political complexion to obscure an effective scrutiny process;

e)                 refrain from public and personal criticism of other members or officers.

f)                   Cabinet Members and Officers should:

g)                 ensure their availability to attend scrutiny meetings as requested;

h)                 co-operate with scrutiny in arriving at conclusions to their investigations;

i)                   provide all necessary information that will assist in the effectiveness of the overview & scrutiny process.

 

Support Services to Members and Party Groups

 

43                The only basis on which the Council can lawfully provide support services (e.g. stationery, typing, printing, photo-copying, transport etc) to Members is to assist them in discharging their role as Members of the Council.  Such support services must therefore only be used on Council business.  They should never be used in connection with party political or campaigning activity or for private purposes.

 

Members’ Access to Information and to Council Documents

 

44                Members are free to approach any Directorate of the Council to ask for information in accordance with paragraph 24 above.  This right extends to such information, explanation or advice as they may reasonably need in order to assist them in discharging their role as a Member of the Council.  This can range from a request for general information about some aspect of the Council’s activities to a request for specific information on behalf of a constituent.  Such approaches should normally be made to the Director or another Senior Officer of the Directorate concerned.

 

45                As regards the legal rights of Members to inspect Council documents, these are covered partly by statute and partly by the common law.

 

46                Further and more detailed information regarding Members rights to inspect Council documents is contained in the Access to Information Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution and Members may obtain advice on their rights from the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

 

47                Any Council information provided to a Member must only be used by the Member for the purpose for which it was provided i.e. in connection with the proper performance of the Member’s duties as a Member of the Council”.

 

Correspondence

 

48                Correspondence between an individual Member and an Officer should not normally be copied (by the Officer) to any other Member.  Where exceptionally it is necessary to copy the correspondence to another Member, this should be made clear to the original Member.  In other words, a system of ‘silent copies’ should not be employed.

 

49                Official letters on behalf on the Council should normally be sent in the name of the appropriate Officer, rather than in the name of a Member.  It may be appropriate in certain limited circumstances (e.g. representations to a Government Minister) for a letter to appear in the name of a Cabinet Member or the Leader but this should be the exception rather than the norm.  Letters which, for example, create legal obligations or give instructions on behalf of the Council should never be sent out in the name of a Member, Executive of otherwise.

 

Publicity and Press Releases

 

50                Local authorities are accountable to their electorate.  Accountability requires local understanding. This will be promoted by the Authority, explaining its objectives and policies to the electors and rate-payers.  In recent years, all local authorities have increasingly used publicity to keep the public informed and to encourage public participation.  Every Council needs to tell the public about the services it provides.  Increasingly, local authorities see this task as an essential part of providing services.  Good, effective publicity aimed to improve public awareness of a Council’s activities is, in the words of the Government, to be welcomed.

 

51                Publicity is, however, a sensitive matter in any political environment because of the impact it can have.  Expenditure on publicity can be significant.  It is essential, therefore, to ensure that local authority decisions on publicity are properly made in accordance with clear principles of good practice.  The Government has issued a Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity. The purpose of the Code is to set out such principles.  The Code affects the conventions that should apply to all publicity at public expense and which traditionally have applied in both central and local government.  The Code issued under the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1986 as amended by the Local Government Act, 1988 which provides for the Secretary of State to issue Codes of Recommended Practice as regards the content, style, distribution and cost of local authority publicity, and such other matters as s/he thinks appropriate.  That section requires that all local authorities shall have regard to the provisions of any such Code in coming to any decision on publicity.

 

52                Officers and Members of the Council will, therefore, in making decisions on publicity, take account of the provisions of this Code.  If in doubt, Officers and/or Members should seek advice from the Head of Communications and Marketing who will deal with the matter in accordance with agreed protocols.  Particular care should be paid to any publicity used by the Council around the time of an election.  Particular advice will be given on this by the Monitoring Officer as appropriate.

 

Involvement of Ward Councillors

 

53                Whenever a public meeting is organised by the Council to consider a local issue, all the Members representing the Ward or Wards affected should as a matter of course, be invited to attend the meeting.  Similarly, whenever the Council undertakes any form of consultative exercise on a local issue, the Ward Members should be notified at the outset of the exercise.  More generally, Officers should consider whether other policy of briefing papers, or other topics being discussed with an Executive Member, should be discussed with relevant Ward Members.  Officers should seek the views of the appropriate Executive Member(s) as to with whom and when this might be done.

 

Conclusion

 

54                Mutual understanding, openness on these sort of sensitive issues and basic respect are the greatest safeguard of the integrity of the Council, its Members and Officers.

 

Officer/Member Protocol

 

55                This Protocol was adopted by the Council as part of the Constitution on May 20th 2002.

 

56                Copies of the Protocol will be issued to all Members as part of the Constitution upon election.

 

57                Questions of interpretation of this Protocol will be determined by the Chief Legal Officer.

 

 

 

 

5.

Petitions Procedure

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Petitions

1                    From time to time members of the public will wish to make representations to the Council about a matter which is of general interest to a particular community.

 

2                    In addition, where the Council is engaged in public consultation, petitions may be submitted as part of this process.

 

Receipt of Petitions

 

3                    Petitions received by the Authority shall be passed to the Democratic Services (DS) Team.

4                    Should a Petitioner wish to formally present a Petition of normally over 30 signatures (see paragraph 6 below) to the Authority, s/he should give notice to the DS Team.

 

            Determining the Validity of Petitions

 

5                    Petitions shall only be considered valid if they are in relation to something which falls under the remit of Council.  Subject to paragraph 6, they will not be considered if they are in relation to:

 

a)                   The conduct or rights of an individual or individuals;

b)                   Staff/Trade Union matters of employment;

c)                   The same or substantially the same matter as an earlier petition received within the preceding six months;

d)                   Matters that must be decided by a separate Council body such as the Cabinet, Licensing Committee, Licensing Sub Committee, Planning Committee and Scrutiny Programme Committee, in which case these petitions will be reported to the appropriate body and the petitioners invited to attend.

 

6                    From time to time the Council will engage in consultation with the public in relation to matters which have a high impact, of major public interest or of a sensitive nature.  In these circumstances petitions may be referred directly to full Council as part of the consultation process.  Petitioners will therefore have the ability to address all Councillors even if Council is not the decision making body.   This will enable Council to consider all matters prior to making its views known to the ultimate decision making body.

 

7                    In the situation envisaged by Paragraph 6, any petitions will be considered by the ultimate decision making body as part of a report and the petitioners will not address that decision making body directly.

 

8                    Petitions should normally have at least 30 signatures in order to validate them.  However, the Portfolio Holder for Petitions shall have power to waive this requirement, should s/he determine that the subject of the petition affects a lesser number of people.

9                    The DS Team would normally take the responsibility for determining whether a petition is valid.  However, if there is uncertainty and the petition is lower than the required 30 signatures, the Portfolio Holder for Petitions shall determine the validity of the petition.

10                 If the petition is deemed invalid, then the DS Team shall inform the Lead Petitioner of this and the relevant Department shall deal with it as general correspondence.

 

Petitions on related matters

 

11                 The Authority often receives a number of petitions on related matters.  Should 2 or more petitions be received on the same or substantially the same matters, then where possible, the Department will attempt to treat the matter as one issue.

 

Procedure for Dealing with Petitions

 

12                 A flowchart showing the Petitions Procedure is attached.

 


 

6.

Hospitality Protocol

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Principles

 

1                    The Council accepts that Councillors and Officers have an important role as ambassadors for the Council, ensuring that it promotes its aims and objectives, and, by this protocol, the Council seeks to ensure that Councillors and Officers hosting or attending cultural, sporting and other such events are using those events to the Council’s maximum benefit and for the benefit of the community as a whole.

 

2                    This protocol therefore sets out guidance for Councillors and Officers on issues which commonly arise as a result of offers of hospitality.  It covers both hospitality offered by the Council and hospitality offered to the Council.

 

3                    The protocol supplements the respective Codes of Conduct which apply to Councillors and Officers and is subject to the Council’s Procedure Rules.

 

General Roles and Responsibilities

 

4                    Councillors and Officers will throughout the course of a year receive many invitations to attend Council hosted functions and it is expected that Councillors and Officers attending these events will carry out an ambassadorial role on behalf of the Council, engaging as wide a section of the community as possible.

 

5                    Attendance at Council hosted events does not require an entry in the Hospitality register if the attendance is as a result of a formal invitation.  These invitations are to Councillors and Officers in their formal official role and should be treated as part of the Council’s formal activities in the Community.  Invitations will be issued on the basis of areas of expertise, expectations of the event and on a fair and equitable basis thereafter.

 

6                    Any benefit received from the Council, in the form of tickets (i.e. Grand Theatre, Fireworks, Liberty Stadium etc.), invitations to events etc., which is not received by way of a formal invitation MUST be registered.

 

7                    Councillors and Officers should be aware of the possibility that acceptance of hospitality from third parties may require that they do not participate in decisions of the Council that affect that third party, such as lettings of contracts / participation in decision making, etc.

 

8                    Invitations to or from organisations with whom the Council may be contracting should be treated with extreme caution.  Legal advice should be sought before such an invitation is extended or accepted.

 

 

9                    A Hospitality Form must be completed.  The form is available at www.swansea.gov.uk/hospitality

 

Hospitality Registers

 

10                 The Monitoring Officer maintains a register of any declaration of hospitality or gift accepted by Members of more than £25 in value in accordance with:

 

a)                  The Members Code of Conduct;

b)                  “Interests, Gifts and Hospitality of Members” within the Council Procedure Rules.

 

11                 The Chief Executive maintains a register of any declaration of hospitality or gift accepted by Chief Officers of more than £25 in value in accordance with:

 

a)                  The Officers Code of Conduct

b)                  “Interests, Gifts and Hospitality of Officers” within the Council Procedure Rules.

 

12                 All gifts and hospitality over £25 in value received from any source other than formal Council invitations MUST be registered.

 

Enquiries

 

13                 If any Councillor or Officer is uncertain about any aspect of hospitality, they should seek advice from the Monitoring Officer immediately.

 

 

 

 

Contacts:
© 2011 City and County of Swansea
Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea. SA1 3SN. Tel: 01792 636000 Fax: 01792 636340