Councillors’ code of conduct set out

021013WC3_011 A mandatory code of conduct for councillors has been approved by the Assembly. The code outlines expected conduct, including honesty, and the promotion of equality and good relations.

Councillors must have a “special duty to [their] constituents and are responsible to the electorate who are the final arbiter of [their] conduct as a public representative.”

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has stated: “Councillors put themselves forward as leaders in the community and it is right that the public should expect them to demonstrate high standards of behaviour.”

He added that “local government reform is all about bringing power closer to citizens” and councillors should be “open, transparent and as accountable as possible.” The code covers registration, disclosure and declaration of interests and rules. Sanctions include suspension and disqualification.

However, Green MLA Steven Agnew has argued that the code does not go far enough and councillors must declare who has donated to their political campaigns or local party groups.

Rules of conduct with regard to planning will be introduced in April 2015 when planning functions are transferred to councils.

Agnew commented: “Financial transparency is key so that citizens can have confidence that such decisions are being made for the right reasons and in the interests of communities and not the vested interests of developers and big business.”

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