Independent Scrutiniser Needed To Advise Local Councils

Would you like to have a say in how our local councillors conduct themselves?

Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council are looking to appoint a new ‘independent person’ to help maintain the high standard of conduct of local councillors across both councils and to make sure there is a rigorous, independent procedure in place to investigate any complaints against Councillors

If you have an independent mind and a strong sense of what is right or wrong, and have a background in research or investigation – this could be the role for you. But closing date is 10th March so its important to get your skates on if you are interested.

“All of our Councillors operate within the Suffolk Local Code of Conduct, which sets standards of conduct for selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. As the name suggests, the independent person plays an important role ensuring the process for investigating complaints is fair and impartial,” said Hilary Slater, Monitoring Officer for Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils.

“We already have one independent person in place. However, as the role is shared across both Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils, we feel it is important that we appoint a second person to ensure there is resilience within the complaint handling process.”

The role involves helping deal with any complaints about councillors’ conduct, as well as providing advice to any councillors who have been complained about.

If you are fair, pragmatic and committed to high standards of behaviour, the SCDC would like to hear from you.

To ensure the independence of the role, you cannot be appointed if you are currently a councillor, co-opted member or officer of that council, or have been within the last five years. Neither can you be a relative or close friend of such a person.

If you are interested you to apply at: www.suffolkjobsdirect.org/administration-business-support-customer-service-independent-person/43965.job

The successful applicant will be given training and will also be paid a nominal sum (of £300 a year, plus £50 with expenses for each complaint they investigate). It is estimated that the time commitment would be about three hours a month.

The closing date for applications is Friday, 10 March 2017, with interviews scheduled to be held on Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Localism Act 2011 places a duty on Local Authorities, and Town and Parish Councils, to promote and maintain high standards of conduct for elected and co-opted members. This includes the requirement to have a Code of Conduct with which members must comply.

The Act also requires that authorities adopt arrangements for dealing with complaints on breaches of the Code of Conduct both by the Local Authority members and by Town and Parish Council members within their area. This must include provision for the appointment of at least one Independent Person per authority.

The Act states that the Independent Person will have the following functions:

They must be consulted by their appointing authority before it makes a finding as to whether a member has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct following investigation or decides on action to be taken in respect of that member;

They may be consulted by their appointing authority in respect of a standards complaint at any other stage; and

They may be consulted by a member or co-opted member of their appointing authority or of a Town and Parish Council within the appointing authority’s area against whom a complaint has been made.The essential qualities for the position are that you should

  • have a commitment to public service
  • have personal integrity and a commitment to upholding high standards
  • be independent and impartial
  • be able to critically assess written and oral evidence to reach balanced and objective decisions
  • possess tact, diplomacy and good communication skills
  • demonstrate excellent listening, problem solving and evaluation skills
  • be reliable and committed
  • have the ability and willingness to work with other members of other councils, their committees / panels and officers where necessary.  
  • For more details, including the application form and application pack, please see: www.suffolkjobsdirect.org/administration-business-support-customer-service-independent-person/43965.job
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