Strong local government demands high standards of conduct and a solid ethical framework. It falls upon the Standards Committee to ensure that this is in place.
The Leader of the Council cannot be a Member of the Standards Committee.
One Member may be appointed from the Cabinet but he/she cannot Chair the Committee.
Under the 2011 Localism Act, the way in which complaints against councillors are dealt with has changed. Complaints against a councillor must indicate how the Member is felt to have breached the Code of Conduct.
Complaints are assessed by the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with an Independent Person, to come to a view as to whether or not there is a potential breach of the Code. In exceptional circumstances this task will be undertaken by a sub-committee of the Standards Committee.
If at this initial assessment stage it is felt that there is a potential breach then the decision may be to take no action; for the Monitoring Officer to deal with the issues involved; or to refer the matter for investigation.
The recommendations arising from any investigation will be considered by the Monitoring Officer in conjunction with the Independent Person. If the Investigation concludes that there is no breach of the Code then it is likely to result in no action being taken. If there is considered to be a breach then a Hearing Panel may be held consisting of members of the Standards Committee including an Independent Member. At the Hearing, the Panel will listen to evidence from all parties and come to a determination as to what, if any, action should take place. This could include a sanction against the Member concerned.