Code of conduct
- The code of conduct is adopted under section 27(2) of the Localism Act 2011.
- The code is based on the Seven Principles of Public Life under section 28 (1) of the Localism Act 2011, which are set out in Annex 1.
- This preamble and annex 1 do not form part of the code, but you should have regard to them as they will help you to comply with the code.
- If you need guidance, you should seek it from the Monitoring Officer or your own legal adviser – but it is entirely your responsibility to comply with the provisions of this code.
- In accordance with section 34 of the Localism Act 2011, where you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest it is a criminal offence if, without reasonable excuse, you:
- Fail to notify our Monitoring Officer of the interest before the end of 28 days beginning with the day on which you became a Member.
- Fail to disclose the interest at meetings where the interest is not entered in our register.
- Fail to notify our Monitoring Officer of the interest before the end of 28 days beginning with the date of disclosure at a meeting. If the interest is not entered in our register and is not the subject of a pending notification.
- Take part in discussion or votes, or further discussions or votes, at Meetings on matters in which you have the interest which are being considered at the meeting.
- Fail to notify our Monitoring Officer of the interest before the end of 28 days beginning with the date when you become aware that you have such an interest in a matter to be dealt with, or being dealt with, by you acting alone in the course of discharging a function.
- Take any step in relation to a matter being dealt with by you acting alone in the course of discharging a function, except a step for the purpose of enabling the matter to be dealt with otherwise than by you
- Knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information in any of the above disclosures or notifications.
- Any written allegation received by us that you have failed to comply with the code will be dealt with under the arrangements adopted by us for such purposes. If it is found that you have failed to comply with the code, we may decide whether to take action and, if so, what action to take in relation to you.
“Associated Person(s)” means:
- A family member or any other person with whom you have a close association, including your spouse, civil partner, or somebody with whom you are living as a husband or wife, or as if you are civil partners;
- Any person or body who employs or has appointed such persons, any firm in which they are a partner, or any company of which they are directors;
- Any person or body in whom such persons have a beneficial interest in a class of securities exceeding the nominal value of £25,000;
- Any body of which you are in a position of general control or management and to which you are appointed or nominated by us;
- Any body in respect of which you are in a position of general control or management:
- exercising functions of a public nature;
- directed to charitable purposes;
- one of whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy (including any political party or trade union).
“Authority” means us, Maidstone Borough Council.
“Authority Function” means any one or more of the following interests that relate to our functions:
- housing - where you are our tenant, provided that those functions do not relate particularly to your tenancy or lease;
- school meals or school transport and travelling expenses - where you are a parent or guardian of a child in full time education, or are a parent governor of a school, unless it relates particularly to the school which your child attends;
- statutory sick pay under Part XI of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 - where you are in receipt of, or are entitled to the receipt of, such pay;
- an allowance or payment given to our members;
- any ceremonial honour given to our members;
- setting council tax or a precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
“Code” means this Code of Conduct.
“Co-opted Member” means a person who is not an elected Member but who is a member of:
- any Committee or Sub-Committee
- and represents the Authority on, any joint committee or joint sub-committee;
- and who is entitled to vote on any question that falls to be decided at any meeting.
“Disclosable Pecuniary Interest” means those interests of a description specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State (as amended from time to time) as set out in Annex 2 and where either it is:
- your interest; or
- an interest of your spouse or civil partner, a person with whom you are living as husband and wife, or a person with whom you are living as if you were civil partners and provided you are aware that the other person has the interest.
“Interests” means disclosable pecuniary interests and other significant interests.
"Meeting" means any meeting of:
- the Authority, us;
- any of our committees, sub-committees, joint committees and/or joint sub-committees.
"Member" means a person who is an elected member and includes a Co-opted Member.
“Other Significant Interest” means an interest (other than a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or an interest in our functions) in our businesses which:
- may affect the financial position of yourself and/or an associated person to a greater extent than the majority of other council tax payers, ratepayers or inhabitants of the electoral division or ward, as the case may be, affected by the decision.
- relates to the determination of your application (whether made by you, jointly or on your behalf) for any approval, consent, licence, permission or registration or that of an associated person
and where, in either case, a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard the interest as being so significant that it is likely to prejudice your judgement of the public interest.
“Register of Members’ Interests” means the Authority's register of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests established and maintained by the Monitoring Officer under section 29 of the Localism Act 2011.
"Sensitive Interest" means information, the details of which, if disclosed, could lead to you or a person connected with you being subject to violence or intimidation.
You must comply with this code whenever you act in your capacity as a Member or Co-opted Member.
3. General obligations
- act in accordance with our requirements;
- ensure resources are not used improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes).
You must not:
- intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is or is likely to be a complainant, a witness, or involved in the administration of any investigation or proceedings, in relation to an allegation that a member (including yourself) has failed to comply with the code;
- do anything that compromises, or is likely to compromise, the impartiality or integrity of those who work for, or on behalf of us;
- 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
- you have the written consent of a person authorised to give it; or
- you are required by law to do so; or
- the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
- the disclosure is reasonable and in the public interest; and made in good faith and in compliance with the requirements
- prevent another person from gaining access to information to which that person is entitled by law;
- conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the authority into disrepute
- use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage.
4. Registering disclosable pecuniary interests
You must, before the end of 28 days beginning with the day you become a member or co-opted member, or before the end of 28 days beginning with the day on which this code takes effect (whichever is the later), notify the Monitoring Officer of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.
In addition, you must, before the end of 28 days beginning with the day you become aware of any new Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or change to any interest already registered, register details of that new interest or change, by providing written notification to the Monitoring Officer.
Where you have a disclosable pecuniary interest in any matter to be dealt with, or being dealt with, by you acting alone in the course of discharging a function (including making a decision in relation to the matter), then if the interest is not registered in the Register of Members’ Interests and is not the subject of a pending notification, you must notify the Monitoring Officer before the end of 28 days beginning with the day you become aware of the existence of the interest.
5. Declaring interest
Whether a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest has been entered onto the Register of Members’ Interests or is the subject of a pending notification or not, you must comply with the disclosure procedures set out.
Where you are present at a meeting and have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Other Significant Interest in any matter to be considered, or being considered, at the meeting, you must:
- disclose the interest;
- explain the nature of that interest at the commencement of that consideration or when the interest becomes apparent (subject to sensitive interests); and unless you have been granted a dispensation or are acting under para 5(4);
- not participate in any discussion of, or vote taken on, the matter at the meeting; and
- withdraw from the meeting room in accordance with the Authority’s Procedure Rules whenever it becomes apparent that the business is being considered;
- not seek improperly to influence a decision about that business.
Where you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Other Significant Interest in any business where you are acting alone in the course of discharging a function, you must:
- notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest and its nature as soon as it becomes apparent;
- not take any steps, or any further steps, in relation to the matter except for the purpose of enabling the matter to be dealt with otherwise than by you;
- not seek improperly to influence a decision about the matter.
Where you have an Other Significant Interest in any business, you may attend a meeting but only for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business, provided that the public are also allowed to attend the Meeting for the same purpose. Having made your representations, given evidence or answered questions you must:
- not participate in any discussion of, or vote taken on, the matter at the Meeting;
- withdraw from the meeting room in accordance with the Authority’s Procedure Rules.
6. Sensitive interests
You must, before the end of 28 days beginning with the day you become aware of any change of circumstances which means that information excluded under the previous paragraph is no longer a Sensitive Interest, notify the Monitoring Officer asking that the information be included in the Register of Members’ Interests.
The rules relating to disclosure of interests will apply, you will not be required to disclose the nature of the Sensitive Interest, but merely the fact that you hold an interest in the matter under discussion.
7. Gifts & Hospitality
Before the end of 28 days beginning with the day of receipt/acceptance, notify the Monitoring Officer of any gift, benefit or hospitality with an estimated value of £100 or more. As well as any series of gifts, benefits and hospitality from the same or an associated source, with an estimated cumulative value of £100 or more, which are received and accepted by you (in any one calendar year) in the conduct of the business, the office to which you have been elected or appointed or when you are acting as representative. You must also register the source of the gift, benefit or hospitality.
Where any gift, benefit or hospitality you have received or accepted relates to any matter to be considered, or being considered at a meeting, you must disclose at the commencement of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent. Also, the existence and nature of the gift, benefit or hospitality, the person or body who gave it to you and how the business under consideration relates to that person or body. You may participate in the discussion of the matter and in any vote taken on the matter, unless you have an Other Significant Interest, in which case declaring interest will apply.
You must continue to disclose the existence and nature of the gift, benefit or hospitality at a relevant meeting, for 3 years from the date you first registered the gift, benefit or hospitality.
The duty to notify the Monitoring Officer does not apply where the gift, benefit or hospitality is approved by us.
The Monitoring Officer may, on a written request (as appointed Proper Officer for the receipt of applications for dispensation) by a Member with an Interest, grant a dispensation relieving the Member from either or both of the restrictions on participating in discussions and in voting (referring to declaring interest).
A dispensation may be granted only if, after having had regard to all relevant circumstances, the Monitoring Officer considers that:
- without the dispensation the number of persons prohibited from participating in any particular business would be so great a proportion of the body transacting the business as to impede the transaction of the business; or
- without the dispensation, the representation of different political groups on the body transacting any particular business would be so upset as to alter the likely outcome of any vote relating to the business; or
- granting the dispensation is in the interests of persons living in the area; or
- it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.
A dispensation must specify the period for which it has effect, and the period specified may not exceed four years.
Declaring interest does not apply in relation to anything done for the purpose of deciding whether to grant a dispensation.