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Oldham MBC has started a recruitment drive for an independent chair to head the new standards committee which will ...
Oldham MBC has started a recruitment drive for an independent chair to head the new standards committee which will advise on the proper conduct of the local authority in future in line with the government's modernisation agenda.

An official notice advertising the post is being published in the local press setting out what the job involves and the eligibility requirements for candidates.

Deputy council leader Chris Hilyer said the post of independent chair will be crucial in helping to ensure the integrity of the new leader with cabinet management arrangements for the local authority.

'The new standards committee with its independent chair will have a key role to fulfil in setting out the requirements for both councillors and officers to carry out their work honestly and properly and in the best interests of the people of Oldham. We are determined to ensure the openness and transparency of the new executive arrangements and this committee and other measures we are taking will go a long way to allay any concerns about the changes in the way the council will be run,' he said.

The council's assistant chief executive for legal and democratic services Angela Harwood said the post of independent chair has to be filled by 20 September when the new arrangements for managing the council are due to begin. The new executive will replace the present committee system of management and decision making.

'The process of appointing the new independent chair will involve candidates going before a panel of people appointed by the council before the panel makes its recommendations to the full council for final selection,' said Ms Harwood.

She said there are several key aspects concerning eligibility which all candidates have to fulfil to be considered for the job of independent chair.

'Crucially candidates must not be, nor ever have been, councillors or indeed officers of Oldham Council. Also, it may be necessary to consider whether any close relationship between a candidate and a councillor or employee or former councillor or employee should preclude that candidate from appointment,' said Ms Harwood.

As is the case with councillors, candidates should not have a criminal record and will be asked whether there is any matter concerning their own conduct which, if it became generally known, might affect public confidence in their ability to contribute to the work of the standards committee.

The person appointed will not receive payment apart from reasonable expenses. Ms Harwood said the person appointed will be responsible for an important committee under the new management structure of the council.

The standards committee, which is to also include three councillors from the council and one parish councillor in addition to the independent chair, will advise the local authority on the maintenance of proper standards in the conduct of council business, including the conduct of councillors and employees.

It is will also advise on the introduction of new codes of conduct for councillors and employees and the handling of complaints or allegations of misconduct made against individual councillors.

Ms Harwood said once various codes of conduct and protocols are in place for the new executive arrangements it is expected that the standards committee will only need to meet occasionally but would be kept fully infomed of relevant legal and administrative issues by the council.

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