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Council chiefs could face ejection from Solace for unethical conduct

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Senior councils officer could be thrown out of their membership body if they fail to uphold its new code of ethics, LGC has been told.

The new code, by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, calls on leaders in public services to be open, honest and accountable.

Published in draft form today, it also sets an expectation that senior officers will carry out their roles with integrity, selflessness and objectivity.

Around 90% of council chief executives are currently members of Solace.

The code was developed in part in response to the challenge of finding and implementing austerity cuts at a time when the responsibilities of senior roles are increasing as a result of devolution.

Solace first consulted on the code earlier this year and is seeking additional comments before its officially launch at the body’s annual conference in October.

Graeme McDonald

Graeme McDonald

Solace director Graeme McDonald told LGC its next piece of work would examine how the code could be enforced.

 “As soon as we get a code of ethics, people are going to come along and say ‘we think they’ve breached this code’ and we need to have an answer to that,” he added.

“Having the code does raise expectations around us enforcing it and having a clear, transparent and fair way of holding people to account.”

He added that Solace would examine the model used by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy, which can strip members of their registration if they breach its code of conduct.

It would also look at international examples of enforcement, from countries that have similar codes, such as Australia, Canada and the US.

Mr McDonald said the circumstances under which someone could be unregistered had to be defined.

He stressed the code’s primary aim was to support members in challenging roles and rejected the suggestion it would act as a de facto regulation of senior local government professionals. It was possible to work at a senior level without being a member of Solace, Mr McDonald added.

The new ethics code aims to apply to individuals who hold managerial leadership roles in public services that are accountable to locally elected politicians, including directors of adults and children’s services.

The code says these senior individuals must ensure they place the “need to speak truth to power” before their own career prospects, seek feedback on their personal management style and are aware of the influence of unconscious biases.

In a letter to members, Solace president Mark Rogers said: “The code will be central to our promotion of value-based leadership across local public services, and we are exploring what mechanisms might be required to ingrain the code into Solace membership.”

The code is open for comment until 4 September.

 

 

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