Government tightens rules governing local councillors

Local councillors found guilty of misconduct could be banned from office for up to six months under new government plans.

Local government minister John Healey wants to give greater power to local authority standards committees to rule on misconduct allegations against councillors.

The maximum sanctions committees could impose will also increase, from a three-month partial or total suspension from office, to six months.

Standards committees would also be able to refer more serious cases to the independent Adjudication Panel for England, which would also have its range of sanctions increased.

In 2005, the Committee on Standards in Public Life argued that, to guarantee high standards of conduct by councillors, decision-making on allegations of misconduct should be devolved as much as possible to the local level.

Healey said: “Councils are best placed to maintain and improve high ethical standards by their members. That is why these proposals have been designed to devolve power to local authorities through reformed standards committees, and to ensure committees receive the necessary support and guidance.”

Subject to consultation, the new regime could be implemented in April 2009.

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