Local Government lawyers unhappy about the current standards regime

23 Sep

The Lawyers in Local Government website has grave misgivings about the current workings of the local government standards regime.

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) has echoed a watchdog’s criticisms of the workings of the revamped local government standards regime.

In its annual report for 2012/13, published last week, the Committee for Standards in Public Life (CSPL) accepted that the new system – introduced through the Localism Act 2011 – required time to bed in properly.

However, it raised specific concerns about the new regime, namely:

  • Its operation in local authorities where leadership is inadequate;
  • The lack of meaningful sanctions;
  • The weakness of the ‘independent person’ arrangements; and
  • The lack of time that was available for transition to the new system

…..

For instance, as the CSPL report indicates, the new regime fails to catch ‘….inappropriate behaviour which would not pass the strict tests required to warrant a criminal prosecution, but which deserves a sanction stronger than simple censure’. Because while ‘censure may carry opprobrium in the political arena it is often considered unacceptably lenient by the public relative to other areas of their experience’.”

…..

Nicholas Dobson, LLG’s Communications Officer, said: Local government standards exist for two key reasons, i.e. so that those: (i) elected to represent and serve the public behave in the way that the public would reasonably expect; and (ii) taking decisions on behalf of and affecting the public do so without any taint or perception of self-interest.

“Although many aspects of the previous regime may well have been over bureaucratic and cumbersome, we do nevertheless feel that the Localism Act changes weakened processes to such a degree as to render them unfit for their overriding purpose of promoting confidence in local democracy.”

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