Agenda item

Annual Q&A with the Leader of the Council on Ethical Standards


4.1      As part of its efforts to raise the profile of standards the Committee had agreed to invite the Leader of the Council to attend one of its meetings each year to answer questions on ethical standards.


4.2      The Chair welcomed Councillor Adam Hug, Leader of the Council, to the meeting. Committee members were invited to submit questions to Councillor Hug on a range of ethical standards matters and the following areas were covered:


·       Conduct at Council Meetings - The Committee discussed with the Leader conduct at Council meetings. Whilst it was recognised that it was important for robust debate to take part at these meetings it was essential these debates remained respectful, constructive, and accessible to residents. Concerns had been raised in the past and a best practice comparison was undertaken with the code of conducts and standing orders at comparable local authorities. Following this research Westminster’s code of conduct was found to be appropriate and clear about the standards of behaviour expected from Councillors at meetings of the Council. The Committee commented that at the next meeting of the Standards Committee it would receive its Biennial Report and requested that the Nolan Principles, which were the basis of the ethical standards expected of public office holders, be embedded within it.


·       Member Personal Safety – Members were pleased to note that the Council, and in particular the Standards Committee, had ensured measures were in place to support Councillors in maintaining their personal safety and to help provide support and advice to them where necessary. The Committee discussed these measures which included: 


i)      Introducing a Westminster specific Safety Protocol for Councillors which had been circulated to all Members and was also available on the Members Hub.

ii)    A Councillor Personal Safety training session had been held with an external trainer. 

iii)   A drop-in session for Members to discuss personal safety experiences and provide advice had been organised. 

iv)   The LGA guidance on safety for Councillors had also been circulated and in addition extracts from this guidance which provided an overview of the advice had been provided to all Members. 


·       Councillor Training - Extensive member code of conduct training had been undertaken and held in various formats including in-person groups, smaller hybrid group sessions and on a 1:1 basis (hybrid and in person). For regulatory committees such as Planning and Licensing, training was mandatory in order to sit on these committees, and this had been completed by all those Councillors as necessary. In order to encourage attendance training was, where possible, held in a hybrid fashion where Members could attend in person or remotely. Training was also held on an evening in order to capture those Members who worked. Members were encouraged to forward on any ideas for future training sessions, especially on topics they thought Councillors would be interested in.


4.3      The Chair thanked the Leader of the Council for attending the meeting. Councillor Hug thanked the Committee for all their work which he considered to be very important.