New code of conduct for Wigan councillors branded ‘useless’ for stopping bad behaviour
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Wigan Council’s Audit, Governance and Standards Committee endorsed a new protocol put forward by the government to which all councillors must adhere.
The code itself requires councillors to “act with integrity and honesty, act lawfully, treat all persons with civility, lead by example and act in a way that secures public confidence in the office of councillor”. It also demands that they “show impartially exercise responsibilities in the interests of the local community, not improperly seek to confer an advantage, or disadvantage, on any person, avoid conflicts of interest, exercise reasonable care and diligence and ensure that public resources are used prudently and in the public interest”.
The committee, sitting at Wigan Town Hall, all agreed with the principle of the new code of conduct, but believed that without legitimate powers to enforce these rules they would be futile for those who do not adhere.
“Most of it is as useless as a chocolate fire guard, as it won’t do anything to temper bad behaviour,” Coun John Vickers told the committee.
“I understand we had a tie behind our backs on this [referring to the time they had to make a decision].
“There have been moments where councillors haven’t dealt with officers when complaints have been made. What procedures are there to deal with councillors who don’t engage with officers [in regard to complaints]?.”
Coun Vickers was told by council lawyer Janet Davies that their powers were fairly limited, but he was reassured by Coun Charles Rigby who highlighted that both leaders of Labour and Independent groups have agreed to this.