Every local authority is required under the Localism Act 2011 to adopt a Code of Conduct that sets out rules governing the behaviour of its Councillors. All elected Councillors, co-opted and independent members of local authorities, including parish councils, are covered by the Code.
The Council's Monitoring Officer is responsible for considering complaints that a councillor may have breached the code of conduct for councillors.
The complaint must be about conduct that occurred while the Councillor complained about was in office. Conduct of an individual before they were elected, co-opted or appointed to the authority, or after they have resigned or otherwise ceased to be a Councillor, cannot be considered by the Monitoring Officer.
The complaint must be made in writing using the online code of conduct form, after reading guidance notes on making a complaint about a councillor’s conduct below. However, if a disability prevents a person from making a complaint by using the form, they may contact the Monitoring Officer for assistance (email@example.com).
When a complaint is received, the Monitoring Officer will make a decision in accordance with the code of conduct complaints process, in consultation with the Independent Person, as appropriate. If the Monitoring Officer feels that it is inappropriate to take a decision on a complaint, the matter will be delegated to a nominee.
Guidance notes on making a complaint about a Councillor’s conduct
Please read these guidance notes carefully before making a complaint about an elected or co-opted Councillor’s conduct.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s Code of Conduct can be found at Part 7A of the Constitution. The complaints process is described at Appendix D.
Parish and Town Councils have adopted individual Codes of Conduct so if your complaint relates to the conduct of a Parish or Town Councillor you are likely to be able to view it on their website.
What can I make a complaint about?
That a Councillor has breached the adopted Code of Conduct of their authority whilst carrying out, or appearing to carry out, their duties as a Councillor. Note that the Code of Conduct cannot apply to a Councillor whilst acting in his or her private capacity.
Why do you feel the Councillor has breached the Code of Conduct?
Within your complaint you should set out in as much detail as possible what the Councillor has done that you believe breaches the Code of Conduct, referring to the paragraphs from the Code of Conduct that are relevant to your complaint. If you are complaining about more than one Councillor, you should clearly explain what each individual person has done.
It is important that you provide all the information you wish to have taken into account by the Monitoring Officer, in order that he/she can decide under the initial assessment process whether your complaint can be taken further.
- You should be specific, wherever possible, about exactly what you are alleging the Councillor said or did. For instance, instead of simply writing that the Councillor was disrespectful, you should explain what was said or done that led you to believe they had demonstrated disrespect.
- You should provide the dates of any alleged incidents wherever possible. If you cannot provide exact details, it is important to give the general timeframe.
- You should confirm whether there are any witnesses to the alleged incident and provide their names and contact details if possible.
- You should provide any relevant background information.
Who will be told that I have made a complaint?
On receipt of your complaint the following people will be informed at the initial assessment stage:
- The Council’s Monitoring Officer.
- The Council’s Independent Person, where appropriate.
- If the complaint relates to a Parish/Town Councillor, the clerk to that Council.
- The Councillor to whom the complaint relates to (the “Subject Member”)
What will happen to my complaint once received?
The Monitoring Officer will acknowledge the complaint and seek further information from the complainant if necessary. If the Subject Member is a Parish or Town Councillor, the Parish or Town clerk will be informed on a confidential basis. Once all information has been received, the Subject Member will be given full details of the complaint and asked to supply a response within 10 working days of receipt.
Once a response is received from the Subject Member, the Monitoring Officer may seek further clarification from the complainant. The Monitoring Officer will then make an initial decision on how the complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the complaints process. She or he may, as part of this process, consult with one of the Council’s Independent Persons, who are appointed by the Council to assist with Code of Conduct decisions.
If the Monitoring Officer decides that the complaint cannot be taken further, for the reasons stated in the complaints process, then she will inform the complainant and the Subject Member with reasons for her decision.
However, if the Monitoring Officer decides to take the complaint through the formal process, then one of three options will take place.
- If there is clearly no breach of the Code of Conduct, he or she will make a formal decision to that effect.
- If the matter is arguable, then there will could be an investigation.
- Where the facts are clear, a formal determination by the Council’s Member Standards Sub-Committee.
Anonymous complaints will not usually be considered unless the complaint is of an exceptionally serious or significant nature and is accompanied by documentary or photographic evidence.
The Code of Conduct complaints form can be found below.