How we deal with your complaint
When we receive your complaint about a councillor we will reply to let you know we have received it. We will also inform the councillor you have complained about. The Assistant Director (Chief Executive’s Unit) will carry out an initial assessment of your complaint in consultation with the Council’s Independent Person within 20 working days of receiving it. They will make one of three decisions:
- They may refer the complaint for investigation if they think it is serious enough.
- They may decide no further action should be taken because there is no evidence of a breach of the Code or, there is evidence of a breach, but it is so minor that an investigation is not justified.
- They may seek to resolve the complaint informally without the need for an investigation.
We will write to tell you the outcome of the initial assessment. We will also inform the councillor at the same time.
Should your complaint be referred for investigation, the Assistant Director (Chief Executive’s Unit) will normally appoint someone to take on the role of Investigating Officer to look into your complaint. They will undertake a thorough investigation which will involve looking at the information you have supplied, interviewing yourself, the councillor concerned, any witnesses and collecting any additional material.
At the end of the investigation the Investigating Officer will produce a report. If the report concludes that there is evidence of a breach of the Code of Conduct it will be referred to the Standards Committee to conduct a hearing. You will be invited to attend this hearing, which will also hear from other witnesses called by the Investigating Officer and the councillor you have complained about.
The Standards Committee will make one of three rulings:
- The Code of Conduct has not been broken and the complaint is dismissed.
- The Code has been broken but no action should be taken against the councillor.
- The Code has been broken and the breach is serious enough to justify action being taken against the councillor.
Local penalties for a breach of the Code of Conduct
The Standards Committee has the power to recommend a range of penalties, ranging from censure to removing a councillor from a committee, or withdrawing facilities such as excluding them from certain premises, or from having access to certain officers. Neither the Standards Committee or the Council has the power to remove a councillor from office or suspend them.