Councillors' conduct

We expect high standards from our councillors and co-opted members. Co-opted members are not elected council members but they are people selected by committees because of their experience and knowledge such as head teachers. In order to ensure continuing high standards Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council have a Joint Standards Committee.

The Joint Standards Committee is the guardian of ethical standards for both councils as well as town and parish councils. The committee is made up of six elected councillors, three from Forest Heath District Council and three from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The Joint Standards Committee will:

  • promote and maintain high standards of conduct by councillors and co-opted members
  • assist councillors and co-opted members to observe the Members' Code of Conduct
  • advise the councils on the adoption and revision of the Members' Code of Conduct
  • monitor the operation of the Members' Code of Conduct
  • advise, train or arrange to train councillors and co-opted members on matters relating to the Members' Code of Conduct
  • deal with any complaints which have been investigated and where the investigating officer considers that the councillor has committed a breach of the Code of Conduct

The full Code of Conduct is the same for both Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury. You can find it in part five of the Forest Heath District Council Constitution or the St Edmundsbury Borough Council constitution

Making a complaint about a councillor

You can make a complaint about a councillor if you believe they have broken any part of the Code of Conduct, this could be:

  • failing to treat people with respect
  • causing the local authority to breach equality laws
  • revealing information that was given to them in confidence
  • stopping someone getting information they are entitled to by law
  • damaging the reputation of their office or authority
  • using their position improperly, to their own or someone else's advantage or disadvantage
  • misusing the authority's resources
  • allowing the authority's resources to be misused for the activities of a registered political party
  • failing to reveal an interest at a meeting
  • compromising the impartiality of officers
  • taking part in a meeting or making a decision where the member has an interest

All complaints will need to be in writing. The councillor that you have complained about will usually be told who you are and what the nature of the complaint is. However, if you request that your details remain confidential, this will be considered. We do not accept anonymous complaints. All complaints should be addressed to the monitoring officer. We have prepared an online code of conduct complaints form that you can complete if you want to make a complaint.

What will happen to my complaint?

Your complaint will be considered by the monitoring officer and an independent person specifically appointed for this purpose. Complaints will be assessed and an initial decision will be reached within 20 days. If that decision is to take no further action you and the councillor will be informed and the complaint is closed.

After the initial assessment if it appears that a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred then the Joint Standards Committee will investigate. The Joint Standards Committee will then decide if a breach has indeed occurred and if so what sanctions should be taken.

For any complaints about parish or town councillors the Joint Standards Committee can only recommend a sanction. It is up to the relevant parish or town council to decide whether or not to impose the sanction or any other measure.

For further clarification or to discuss whether something is a breach of the Code of Conduct, contact the monitoring officer who will be happy to help.