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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/10/2004
CONSULTATION DOCUMENTS: (1) A DRAFT CODE OF CONDUCT FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES AND (2) A REVIEW OF RESTRICTIONS ON THE POLITICAL ACTIVITIES OF LOCAL AUTHORITY EMPLOYEES AND PAY OF POLITICAL ASSISTANTS



Summary & Purpose
This report draws attention to two consultation papers issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 19th August 2004 and seeks the endorsement of the Executive to the draft response to these consultations. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee has made observations on the draft response and these are set out below.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A


APPENDIX N
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
14TH SEPTEMBER 2004
REPORT TO THE EXECUTIVE – 4TH OCTOBER 2004
_________________________________________________________________________
Title:
CONSULTATION DOCUMENTS: (1) A DRAFT CODE OF CONDUCT FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES AND (2) A REVIEW OF RESTRICTIONS ON THE POLITICAL ACTIVITIES OF LOCAL AUTHORITY EMPLOYEES AND PAY OF POLITICAL ASSISTANTS
[Wards Affected: N/A]
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose:

This report draws attention to two consultation papers issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 19th August 2004 and seeks the endorsement of the Executive to the draft response to these consultations. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee has made observations on the draft response and these are set out below.
_________________________________________________________________________
Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

E-Government implications:

Once the Code of Conduct for Local Government Employees is in final form, it will be available for inspection on the Waverley website.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no financial resources implications arising from this report.

The consultation concerns a proposed Code of Conduct that would form part of the Standing Orders of all local authorities and would become part of the terms and conditions of employment of local government employees covered by the proposed Code.
_________________________________________________________________________
Introduction

1. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) is seeking views on a (draft) National Code of Conduct for Local Government Employees. This draft has been anticipated for some time and arises out of the implementation of the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000. Specifically, Section 82 of that Act makes provision for the Secretary of State to specify, by order, a code of conduct for relevant local government employees.
2. Not so well anticipated was the review of politically restricted posts. The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (Section 2) introduced restrictions on the political activities of certain postholders in local government. Those posts are: -

o Chief Executive;
o And Chief Officer;
o Any Deputy Chief Officer;
o Any other officer whose work involves giving advice, regularly to the Council or speaking regularly to journalists;
o Any officer who is paid at or above a specific level (spinal column point 44) on the national pay scales for local government staff

3. All other staff can be active, politically, except that the Local Government Act 1972 prevents an employee being an Elected Member in the authority that employs them. The Local Government Officers (Political Restrictions) Regulations 1990 then defined how the people in these posts are restricted. They cannot: -

o be a candidate for election as a MP, MEP or a local authority; or
o be an election agent; or
o be an officer of a political party; or
o canvass or speak to the public or publish written or artistic work with the apparent intention affecting support for a political party.

Background

4. Waverley introduced a Code of Conduct for staff in 1995. It was developed from a model code produced by the (former) Local Government Management Board. It gives a general indication of standards of behaviour required of local government staff. It has stood the test of time but has been built upon by additional, more detailed Waverley codes that give guidance to Waverley staff including the policies and procedures on Dignity and Respect at Work, Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) at Work, the IT Code of Conduct, the Equality policies and procedures, Data Protection Guide etc.

The Consultation Papers

5. The Draft Code of Conduct for Local Government Employees is attached as Annexe 1 and the Review of Restrictions on Political Activities of Local Authority Employees is attached as Annexe 2.

6. The general view of officers is that both of these documents should be welcomed.

7. The draft Code of Conduct is written in broad terms and, when approved, may need to have local additions to reflect Waverley practices. It contains no surprises and is consistent with current practice.

8. The review of political restrictions, whilst not anticipated, does not propose significant change. The main thrust of the review is to ask whether the existing legislation catches too many local government employees.

9. The ODPM is seeking responses to specific questions in relation to both papers.



Conclusion

10. It is the view of officers that the subject matter is of sufficient importance for a response to be sent from Waverley. A draft response is attached as Annexe 3 to this report. Members of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, at their meeting on 14th September 2004, made some observations on the response and these are shown in the annexe as bold and italic text.

Staff Side Views

11. Staff Side are being invited to comment on the documents but their views will not be available in time for this meeting.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the draft response to the consultation papers, set out at Annexe 3 to the report, be endorsed by the Executive and passed to the ODPM.

________________________________________________________________________
Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
________________________________________________________________________

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 523387

E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.uk


Comms/exec/2004-05/169