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COUNCILLORS BEHAVING BADLY TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT

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Local authority councillors guilty of inappropriate behaviour are subject to a new complaints procedure from this w...
Local authority councillors guilty of inappropriate behaviour are subject to a new complaints procedure from this weekend.

As of 5 May, councillors on county and unitary councils, city, district, town and parish councils can be held to account by anybody, if they break the code of conduct that contains national provisions governing their behaviour.

Under this system, complaints about councillors abusing their positions can be made to The Standards Board for England. Most councils have signed up to the new procedure, which has been in place since November 2001. But even those who have not already done so are now automatically included in the system.

Complaints, which can result in those members found guilty of misconduct facing the prospect of being banned from office for up to five years, must be put in writing to The Standards Board for England. They can be contacted on 0800 107 2001, PO Box 36656, London SE1 0WN, or via their website .

Tony Holland, chair of The Standards Board for England, stressed the importance of holding to account those members who behave inappropriately.

'The vast majority of the 100,000 plus members who serve local democracy do so because they care about their neighbours and their neighbourhood. A tiny minority let everybody else down. It is in everyone's interests that they are held to account.'

The Standards Board for England is an independent organisation set up as a result of the Local Government Act 2000. The Act also sets out the code of conduct that will apply to all members. Its provisions cover such matters as declarations of interest, hospitality received relating to members roles as councillors, and councillors using their positions to give unfair advantage or disadvantage. In addition, it includes a requirement to treat people with respect and not to discriminate unlawfully.

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