Complaints procedure to be made more public under new legislation

JPCT 130312 Park North, Hosham District Council office. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 130312 Park North, Hosham District Council office. Photo by Derek Martin

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Complaints to the council regarding the conduct of parish and district councillors are to be made more public.

Currently details of a complaint and discussions of the Horsham District Council standards assessments sub committee are kept private, although a summary of their decision is released to the public in the form of committee minutes.

Under the Localism Act 2012 due to come into force later this year, council enquiries will be carried out in public.

A spokesman for Horsham District Council said: “Changes under the Localism Act 2012 mean that the new Standards arrangements will mostly be conducted in public, and so the public will be made aware of discussions as a matter of course.

“However, other legislation that continues to operate, will allow HDC to withhold certain information from the public domain, for example, where it forms ‘exempt information’.

“If however, the complaint is the subject of an investigation and hearing, resulting in a finding that a member has breached the code of conduct then the arrangements shall provide for the decision to be made public.”

It is anticipated a further report will be made to full council at its meeting on Wednesday June 27, when members will agree the final format of the code of conduct to comply with the new legislation.