ERYC: Breach Code Of Conduct Legislation

Despite the fact that Section 27 of the Localism Act 2011 came into effect on 27 June 2012 East Riding of Yorkshire Council have failed to comply with the statutory requirements with regards their Code of Conduct.

It is clearly explained in Local Government Standards in England that:

“Section 27 of the Localism Act 2011 requires relevant authorities to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and co-opted members of the authority. Each local authority must publish a code of conduct, and it must cover the registration of pecuniary interests, the role of an ‘independent person’ to investigate alleged breaches, and sanctions to be imposed on any councillors who breach the code.”

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council Code of Conduct fails to include the “sanctions to be imposed on any councillors who breach the code” as such:

  1. The ERYC Code of Conduct has no legal basis as it is incomplete.
  2. No sanctions can be imposed on Ward, Town or Parish Councillors.
  3. Any sanctions imposed since 25 July 2012 must be annulled and full apologies given.
  4. ERYC may be exposed to legal action.

Sanctions Against Myself

On 1 December 2017 the ERYC Standards Committee determined that it be recommended  to East Riding of Yorkshire Council that “Councillor Strangeway:

  1. Be censured
  2. Write a letter of apology to the individuals concerned and remove the posts relevant to the complainants from his blog
  3. Remove the email sent on 28 March 2017 from a team member from the Adoption Service from his blog
  4. Access to confidential papers be removed until the end of his term of office as an East Riding Councillor
  5. Be removed from the membership of the Pensions Committee due to the confidential nature of the matters considered by that Committee, and
  6. Not be considered for the membership of any Overview and Scrutiny Review Panels due to the confidential nature of matters considered during the reviews.”

As the recommended sanctions are not stated in the ERYC Code of Conduct none can be applied against me.

If ERYC had stated applicable sanctions in their Code of Conduct the Standards Committee could only recommend that I be censured.

2014 Case

In the case of Heesom v The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales [2014] EWHC 1504 (Admin) at [28], Hickinbottom J noted that:

“It was uncontroversial before me that, there being no common law right for an authority to impose sanctions that interfere with local democracy …… a councillor in England can no longer be disqualified or suspended, sanctions being limited to (for example) a formal finding that he has breached the code, formal censure, press or other appropriate publicity, and removal by the authority from executive and committee roles (and then subject to statutory and constitutional requirements).”

I have stated on numerous occasions to ERYC that my Article 10 Rights must be respected, yet they have failed to do so. This is a statutory requirement that ERYC must respect.

My removal from any committees can only be undertaken by the Independent Group.

ERYC Failures

  • Mathew Buckley, ERYC Head of Legal and Monitoring Officer – has failed in his duty to produce a Code of Conduct with is enforceable and compliant with legislation.
  • Standards Committee – have acted ultra vires by recommending six sanctions against me which they have no authority to do.
  • ERYC have not produced a lawful Code of Conduct as per statutory requirements.

Hull City Council – Lead The Way

I would like to congratulate Hull City Council for including references to sanctions in their Code of Conduct.

However, I would suggest that they seek legal advice with regards changing the word actions to sanctions and review the following three points:

  1. (g) Limit the Subject Member’s access to Council officers by recommending to the Chief Executive (a) that any request by the Subject Member for information or advice should be dealt with only by an officer named and identified by the Chief Executive and/or (b) that identified and specified officer(s) should not be required to have any contact with the Subject Member.
  2. (i) Withdraw for a specified period of time facilities provided to the Subject Member by the Council such as a computer, website, internet access, mobile telephone or other communication device.
  3. (j) Cause a notice to be published on the Council’s website and/or in a locally circulating newspaper or other communication method (electronically circulating or otherwise) setting out the facts established by the Apeals and Ethical Conduct Committee and the breach(es) of the Code of Conduct that it has identified, any sanction imposed and whether the Subject Member has complied with the requirements of that sanction.

Moving Forward

I have requested Mathew Buckley and ERYC Chief Executive, Caroline Lacey address the issues I have raised as a matter of urgency.

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