The Code of Conduct applies to all members including co-opted members of parish councils if:
- Elected members have signed their declaration of office which incorporates a written undertaking to observe the code
- If co-opted, members have given a written undertaking to observe the code and who are allowed to vote on issues. Co-opted members are advised to sign a declaration of acceptance of office
If members have not signed their declaration of office they cannot function as a Parish Councillor.
Durham County Council (DCC) has no powers to investigate complaints against Parish and Town Councils. Durham County Council has certain administrative responsibilities relating to Parish and Town Council elections, precepting and the Code of Conduct.
The County Council’s Standards Committee and Monitoring Officer have a special role in promoting standards of conduct amongst Parish and Town Councillors.
CDALC also offers independent advice on code issues to member Councils.
The Standards Committee has the following main functions in respect of all Parish and Town Councils in the County:
- Advising on adopting or revising a local Code of Conduct
- Training councillors on the Code of Conduct or arranging such training
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the Code
- Promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by councillors
- Helping councillors to follow the Code
- Working in cooperation with CDALC on Code of Conduct issues
The DCC Standards Committee now has the power to hear complaints about councillors’ conduct and can discipline councillors for breaking the Code of Conduct.
Members also have to enter relevant financial and other interests in a special register that is open to inspection by members of the public. Council Clerks will have a copy of the Code of Conduct and the Register of Interests for their Councillors. Copies of Parish Councillor Register of Interests can also be inspected at the County Council’s offices.