Members’ Code of Conduct

Councillors are required to comply with the Members’ Code of Conduct which is included in the Council’s Constitution.

Procedure for dealing with complaints pursuant to the Members’ Code of Conduct

1. Introduction

1.1 The procedure to be adopted in dealing with complaints against Councillors under the Members’ Code of Conduct is set out below.

2. Receipt of a complaint

2.1 A complaint should be made in writing, by letter or email, to the Monitoring Officer within 14 days of the alleged breach(es) of the Members’ Code of Conduct. Upon receipt, the Monitoring Officer will forward the complaint to an officer, for the purposes of making an initial assessment of the complaint and the complaint will be acknowledged within three working days.

2.2 The Councillor about whom the complaint is made (“the Subject Member”) will be informed of the complaint and will be afforded the opportunity to make representations concerning the complaint within 10 working days from notification.

3. Conflicts of interest

3.1 Where the Monitoring Officer considers that he/she may have a material potential conflict of interest, he/she shall arrange for another senior officer, deputy Monitoring Officer or Monitoring Officer from another authority to undertake his/her role in this procedure.

4. Initial assessment of complaints

4.1 The officer responsible for initially assessing a complaint will take into account both the content of the original complaint and any representations from the Subject Member.

4.2 The officer responsible will also consider the complaint against the public interest criteria outlined under paragraph 10 of the Members’ Code of Conduct. No further action will be taken by the Monitoring Officer if the complaint fails one or more of the public interest criteria as outlined in the Code. If all elements of the public interest criteria are passed, the complaint will continue to be reviewed.

4.3 The officer will make any further enquiries, as necessary, following which, the officer will determine in their opinion whether or not there appears to have been a breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct. This decision will be made within 28 days of receipt of the complaint.

4.4 If it appears to the officer that there has been no breach (or breaches), the officer will notify in writing the complainant and the Subject Member of this initial assessment. The complainant will be informed of their right to have the initial assessment decision reviewed by the Monitoring Officer.

5. Review of an initial assessment decision

5.1 Requests for review of the initial assessment decision must be made in writing by letter or email to the Monitoring Officer within 10 days from the date on the decision letter or email.

5.2 Upon receipt of a review request, the Monitoring Officer will conduct a review of the initial assessment decision in consultation with one of the Independent Persons, then make a decision.

5.3 The Monitoring Officer will inform the complainant and the Subject Member in writing of the decision within 28 days of receipt of the request for review. There will be no further internal appeal from the Monitoring Officer’s decision.

6. Potential breach of the Code of Conduct

6.1 If the officer undertaking the initial assessment of a complaint is of the view that there is a potential breach or breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct, the matter shall be referred to the Monitoring Officer. In referring the matter to the Monitoring Officer, the officer undertaking the initial assessment of the complaint must set out in writing the reasons for the referral.

6.2 The Monitoring Officer, in consultation with one of the Independent Persons, will decide whether or not the complaint requires a formal investigation. In making this decision, the Monitoring Officer will consider whether it is in the public interest to pursue a formal investigation. In doing so, they will consider factors including:

  • the complaint is a ‘repeat complaint’, unless supported by new or further evidence substantiating or indicating that the complaint is exceptionally serious or significant;
  • no or insufficient information/evidence to substantiate the complaint has been submitted by the Complainant;
  • the complaint is malicious, trivial, politically motivated or ‘tit-for-tat’;
  • the Complainant is unreasonably persistent, malicious and/or vexatious;
  • the complaint is relatively minor and dealing with the complaint would have a disproportionate effect on both public money and officers’ and Members’ time;
  • the circumstances have changed so much that there would be little benefit arising from an investigation or other action;
  • the complaint has been the subject of an investigation or other action and there is nothing more to be gained by further action being taken;
  • the complaint is such that it is unlikely that an investigation will be able to come to a firm conclusion on the matter, e.g where there is no firm evidence on the matter or the alleged misconduct took place so long ago that the complaint should not be pursued, other than when considered appropriate by the Monitoring Officer;
  • the complaint is about a deceased person;
  • the complaint is about a person who is no longer a Member of the Council or Co-opted Member.

6.3 If, following consultation with one of the Independent Persons, the Monitoring Officer determines that a formal investigation is not warranted, an informal resolution will be explored with both the complainant and the Subject Member. Informal resolution of the complaint will, wherever reasonably practicable, be completed within 14 days of the initial assessment decision where a potential breach is established. If the matter is resolved informally, then the complaint will not proceed any further and the complainant and the Subject Member will be notified in writing.

6.4 Example of actions that may be required by the Subject Member to resolve the complaint informally may include, but not limited to, render an apology, undergo training, retract relevant information etc.

7. Formal investigation of complaints

7.1 In cases where the Monitoring Officer considers a complaint warrants a formal investigation, he/she will appoint an officer or person outside the Council to carry out the investigation. Upon conclusion, the officer (or external person) will provide the Monitoring Officer with a report setting out the officer’s findings and whether or not, in the officer’s view, there have been any breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct. The Monitoring Officer will then share this report with one of the Independent Persons and seek their view.

7.2 The investigation will be carried out and the report provided to the Monitoring Officer within 42 days of the investigation being commissioned by the Monitoring Officer.

7.3 Following receipt of the report, the Monitoring Officer will determine, in consultation with the Independent Person, whether or not there has been any breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

7.4 If the Monitoring Officer concludes there has been no breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct, the complainant and the Subject Member will be notified in writing.

7.5 The complainant will have a right of appeal of the Monitoring Officer’s decision to the Members’ Code of Conduct Committee. The appeal should be forwarded to the Monitoring Officer within 14 days from the date of the notification that a breach of the Code of Conduct has not been established.

7.6 If the Monitoring Officer concludes that there has been a breach or breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct committed by the Subject Member, consideration will then be given by the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Independent Person, whether or not an informal resolution between the parties would be appropriate.

7.7 Where an informal resolution is considered appropriate, this will be discussed with the complainant and the Subject Member. Should an informal resolution be agreed, the complaint will not proceed any further. Should either the complainant or the Subject Member not agree the proposed informal resolution, the matter will then be referred, on appeal, to the Members’ Code of Conduct Committee for a final decision in the matter.

7.8 The Members’ Code of Conduct Committee shall reach a decision within 42 days of the matter being referred to it.

7.9 In cases where the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Independent Person, considers that there has been a potential breach or breaches of the Code of Conduct and that the matter should be referred direct to the Members’ Code of Conduct Committee, the complainant and the Subject Member will be notified of the position.

8. Hearings before the Members’ Code of Conduct Committee

8.1 Where the Members’ Code of Conduct Committee meet to decide whether or not there have been any breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct, or on appeal by either of the parties as set out above, the decision of that Committee shall be final. This also applies to any sanctions imposed by the Committee for any such breaches of the Code found by the Committee to have been committed by the Subject Member.

8.2 A formal minute or Decision Notice will be recorded setting out the decision of the Committee. The formal notice shall be published on the Council’s website as soon as possible and shall include the following details:

8.2.1 A brief statement of the facts;
8.2.2 The provisions of the Code of Conduct engaged by the allegations;
8.2.3 The view of the Independent Person,
8.2.4 The reasoning of the decision maker, and
8.2.5 Any sanction(s) applied.

9. Publication of information relating to Code of Conduct complaints

9.1 The Council shall publish annually:

(a) The number of complaints received under this Code;
(b) What the complaints broadly relate to;
(c) The outcome of those complaints, including if they are rejected as trivial or vexatious; and
(d) Any sanctions applied.

9.2 Where the Code of Conduct Committee makes a decision on an allegation of misconduct following a formal investigation, a Decision Notice shall be published as soon as possible on its website. The Decision Notice shall include:

(a) A brief statement of facts;
(b) the provisions of the Code engaged by the allegations;
(c) the view of the Independent Person;
(d) the reasons for the Committee’s decision;
(e) any sanction(s) applied.

9.3 This Code shall be distributed to all Members of the Council at least on an annual basis and any time it has been revised.

Revised March 2022

Complain about a Councillor

Bexley Councillors are required to comply with the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct. If you believe that a councillor has breached the Members’ Code of Conduct and would like to make a complaint, please write to the Council's Monitoring Officer, either:

  • by email to monitoringofficer@bexley.gov.uk; or
  • by letter to The Monitoring Officer, London Borough of Bexley, Legal Services Department, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 7AT

Receipt of your complaint will be acknowledged and you will be kept informed of the progress of your complaint.

The procedure to be adopted by the Council when dealing with complaints against Councillors under the Members' Code of Conduct is set out in the Procedure for dealing with complaints pursuant to the Bexley Members' Code of Conduct.

A decision regarding your complaint will be reached based on the information given, whether it can be resolved informally or requires a formal investigation. Where the decision is that there is no breach of the Code, you have the right to request a review of that decision by the Monitoring Officer, whose decision will be final.

If the matter is considered to require a full investigation and/or the matter cannot be resolved informally, the Monitoring Officer may refer the matter for consideration to a sub-committee of the Council's Members' Code of Conduct Committee, whose decision will be final.

The Members' Code of Conduct Committee

The Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct Committee is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Code of Conduct and reviewing the effectiveness of standards, procedures and policies.

A sub-committee of the Council's Members' Code of Conduct Committee considers the most serious complaints about Councillors.

The Members’ Code of Conduct Committee receives reports on all complaints submitted regularly and a notice of any decision made by a Sub Committee of the Code of Conduct Committee on any complaint is published.

Details of the most recent complaints considered
Date Complainant Description of complaint Outcome
29 October 2020
Concluded May 2021
Member of the public Complaint alleging a Councillor’s social media commentary amounted to bullying and harassment Complaint not upheld
9 March 2021 Member of the public Complaint alleging two Councillors failed to comply with the Social Media Policy for Councillors which forms a part of the Code of Conduct Complaint not upheld
30 November 2021 Member of the public Complaint against three Councillors alleging a failure of the Councillors to make themselves available to be held accountable to the public Complaint not upheld
18 December 2021 Councillor Complaint against four Councillors alleging a breach of the Nolan Principles of Conduct in Public Life by their failure to disclose required information relating to a reclaim for a levy The Members’ Code of Conduct has no application to the complaint
23 January 2022 Member of the public Complaint against a councillor alleging use of social media demonstrated conduct unbecoming of someone in elected office; bringing the Council into disrepute Complaint not upheld