Making a complaint
Complaints must be submitted in writing, which includes email submissions as well as posted letters. You can download the Allegation of Member Breach of Code of Conduct Form to help with your complaint.
Complaints should be addressed to the Monitoring Officer and sent care of the Governance Service, whose contact details are on the allegation form. You must include the following information when making a complaint:
- your name and address
- your email address and / or telephone number
- whether you are complaining as a member of the public, as a fellow Councillor, or as an officer of the council
- who the complaint is about
- what part of the code of conduct you believe has been breached
- details of the alleged misconduct (including dates, witness details etc.)
Please note if you make a complaint, your identity will normally be disclosed to the councillor who is the subject of your complaint.
If you would find it difficult to make a complaint in writing - for instance if you have a physical disability that prevents this, or English is not your first language, then please contact Governance Service (or ask someone to on your behalf) to discuss options.
What happens next?
Receipt of complaint
When your complaint is received, it will be acknowledged within five working days and further details may be sought.
Complaints will initially be investigated by the Monitoring Officer or a representative designated by him / her.
The Monitoring Officer will decide whether any complaint should go to a formal process. If the Monitoring Officer believes that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or does not fall within the scope of the Code or Conduct, the complaint can be rejected following consultation with an appointed Independent Person.
If the Monitoring Officer decides that a complaint should go to a formal process, the Monitoring Officer will provide a written report to the Group Leaders Panel within three months of receiving the complaint. The report will comprise purely factual findings without any conclusion drawn, as to whether or not a breach of the code is believed to have taken place.
You and the subject Member will be able to make written representations to, and answer questions (in writing or verbally) from, the Monitoring Officer, but there will not be ‘in person’ interviews at this stage.
A meeting of the Group Leaders Panel (the Panel) will be convened to hear the case. The Panel comprises the Leaders of all the political Groups represented on the Council taking account of the views of an ‘Independent Person’. An Independent Person has a statutory role of giving views on any complaint about the conduct of a Member and is recruited through public advertisement.
The Monitoring Officer has the discretion to assemble other evidence to assist the panel as appropriate.
The Panel has the discretion to decide whether to take evidence in writing or in person from you and the subject Member, and whether or not to take statements / evidence from other parties.
Procedures would have an emphasis on flexibility and informality (insofar as possible and consistent with the principles of natural justice) and dispute resolution.
When giving evidence in person to the Panel, you and the subject Member can bring along a friend or lay person (but not a legal representative).
If the Panel finds that the Subject Member is in breach of the Code, powers of sanction can include resolution of censure, but can also extend to requests to Group Leaders / Political Groups to take appropriate action.
You (the complainant) will be issued with a formal written notification of the decisions of the panel, including any sanction applied.
All decisions following a formal hearing will be published on the council’s website, subject to the right of a subject Member to request non-publication in any case where there is a finding that the Members’ Code of Conduct has not been breached.