Weekly message from John Austin, ADSO Chair

Hi all,

It’s me again I’m afraid. I’m standing in for Susan Biddle this week who is recovering from a recent operation. I’ve heard from her today and am pleased to say that everything went well and she’s recovering at home. We wish her well and look forward to having her back with us very soon.

Code of Conduct Update 

Last week, I mentioned about the progress with the new Code of Conduct. Since then, we’ve had some more information from the LGA.  Hopefully your Monitoring Officer will have received an e mail from the LGA dated 18 February. They were asked to pass it to Democratic Services but just in case, here is what it said:

The Board of the LGA at its meeting on 11 September 2019 ( report attached) considered and agreed to commence reviewing of the Code ahead of Central Government’s response to the recommendations of the report.

This work is part of a wider programme of work on civility in public life and in response to rising local government concern about the increasing incidence of public, member-to-member and officer/member intimidation and abuse and overall behavioural standards and expectations in public debate, decision making and engagement. Report attached. We appointed Hoey Ainscough through a competitive exercise to work with us to review the Code.

If the code is completed before any government response, Local Authorities will be able to adopt the Code. Some of the recommendations in the report (for example the power to suspend councillors (recommendation 16) , requires legislation which means that provisions cannot be included in the Code.

 The first stage of the review was the gathering of views and good practice examples, and a series of workshops with national representative bodies (Monitoring and Democratic Services officers and elected members from the main parties), to review what worked and develop some broad principles. Three workshops were held in January 2020. Please find attached the slides used at the workshops. The workshops discussions went very well and there were mutual concerns expressed by members and officers about the current codes, inconsistencies in application, lack of guidance and sanctions.

We set out below the next stages of the review process. You will be sent the draft consultation code following the board meeting for your comments.

Summary of code drafting timetable/milestones

  •  3 February –2 March preparation of draft code and report for LGA Board
  • Wednesday 11 March – Draft Code to Board for consideration and approval for consultation
  • W/C 16 March – launch of consultation period (6 weeks takes us up to Friday 24 April)
  • W/C 16 March – Round table discussion with key stakeholders (including LGO)
  • RISK – Thursday 26 March start of pre-election period for local government elections
  • Friday 24 April – close of consultation
  • Monday 27 April – Friday 15 April (3 weeks) review of consultation findings and final drafting
  • Note – Thursday 7 May local government elections
  • Friday 15 May – deadline for final draft from Hoey Ainscough
  • w/c 18 May – Drafting of report for Board /final edits to code
  • Monday 25 May – LGA deadline for submission of report for Board
  • Wednesday 3 June – Final copy to Board for approval
  • W/C 8 June – LGA design and print and final editing for launch
  • Tuesday 30 June – Launch at first day of LGA conference, Harrogate

 Central Government response to CoPSL

Some of you have asked but we do not have any information on central government’s response to the recommendations of the CoPSL report.  MHCLG have scheduled a Monitoring officers network meeting for 13 March 2020, where we hope to receive an update.”

You will see that ADSO is mentioned as one of the future consultees so we are making progress!  I’ll keep you posted as things develop.  The documents referenced by the LGA can be accessed here:

LGA Leadership Board Report – civility in public life 11 September 2019

extension: pdf

Hoey Ainscough Associates/LGA Code Review workshop slides January 2020

extension: pptx

Training for the Experienced DSO

Feedback we receive from you as members includes the wish for more training for experienced DSO’s.  We are taking this on board this year with a management course and repeating the Company Secretaries training. If there is anything else in particular you would like us to provide then please let me know.  If there is sufficient demand, we will look to run it.  In the meantime, please see attached an interesting course being run by LLG entitled ‘Essential Leadership Skills Conference’. If you are interested, contact LLG direct (training@llg.org.uk).  You can access the LLG conference programme here:

LLG Esssential Leadership Skills Conference Programme

extension: pdf

All the best.

John

John Austin
ADSO Chair

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