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Rejecting LGA's Code of Conduct

After a night that makes me wonder what on earth I do all this for, this is a message I posted to my friends and residents. If you're a Councillor elsewhere, maybe you should have a closer look at the terms you've signed up to. I'm still working on analysing and amending it, but as someone who's pretty constitutionally aware, the more I look at it, the more I think its an abomination.

Feeling disillusioned with my fellow Councillors after tonight.

We adopted a new Code of Conduct last year. It replaced a Code presumably written and amended by our Councillors over many years, to get it right. How Policies should be written. The new Code was written by the Local Government Association, who are an NGO of unelected bureaucrats funded and influenced by god knows who (no doubt WHO are one of them). Theres some nice people in it, but thats besides the point. This model code has been foisted on every Council across the Country, with an undertone of authority from "Officers" that Councillors must adopt it, which is not correct, but almost every Council across the Country has done, because nobody has the guts to say no.

On closer inpection, by my interpretation this Code of Conduct limits Councillors ability to represent their residents on issues that they have taken a stand on. So if I stand up for you on an issue, and make a bit of a fuss, I can be prevented from voting on any decisions related to it. I may even be prevented from contributing to the discussion. So the very person who does what you elected them for and champions your cause, is blocked from representing you. They've done this by bastardising legislation about registering Conflicts of Interests, which has existed for a long time, and nobody objects to as this quite sensibly prevents Councillors and MPs voting on things where they or their business stands to gain financially. That would be a breach of integrity. Championing a cause on behalf of residents is the definition of integrity!

I stood up for residents when our community leisure centre and social club was being turned into a Mosque under the Save The Hamptons campaign. I've stood up for residents again over plans to turn our beautiful countryside into a massive housing estate nobody wants, starting the Save Sandford Mill campaign, running a petition to show how many people don't want it, and spending god knows how long researching and writing planning objections.

If I register these causes on the register of interests, which the new Code of Conduct instructs me to do, then depending on interpretation, I could be liable to an UNLIMITED FINE and disqualification from being your Councillor if I try to participate in council business related to it. This is absolutely disgusting. Its fundamentally wrong. I told them as much when I did the "training" course on it, which should be called a "compliance" or "do as you're told" course. I said I will work to get my Parish to repeal and replace it! Nobody had any questions until I spoke up. There were a few more afterwards. I'm a volunteer right, doing my bit for my local community. I don't get paid and I don't get expenses. Yet here they are making me criminally liable with unlimited fines if I dare have the integrity to stand up for my residents.

I have been analsysing and amending this abomination of a policy on and off for weeks, and plan to submit an amended version at our Policies and Personnel meeting in July. That was the plan anyway.

However, tonight we welcomed our new Councillors in our first meeting back since the election. As a part of this special meeting, we readopt our Policies, including the bloody Code of Conduct. I'd forgotten we do this, so my amended policy wasn't ready. I sent an email around, which I got in trouble for, saying I have serious issues with the new Code, and will be proposing we adopt our old Code instead. So tonight I said my peace briefly to the other Councillors (it would take a whole meeting to go through all the problems with it), and proposed we readopt our old Code of Conduct instead. NOT A SINGLE ONE of my fellow Councillors would second my proposal, and this was only a proposal to have a vote on readopting our old Code. So then we had a vote on readopting the new abomination Code, and I was the only Councillor to vote against it. That was disappointing. I told them all they made the wrong decision and asked for the vote to be recorded in the minutes.

Seriously, why become a Councillor, if you're going to roll over and allow yourself to be removed from the debate as soon as one of the isssues you've been championing and care about comes up? Its weak. It shows a lack of integrity and courage.

So now we're stuck with the abomination Code for the forseeable future. Now I've got to fill out a new register of interests form, including the LGAs invented section on "Other Registerable Interests" which limits my ability to represent you. On principle I WILL NOT be declaring any of the campaigns or issues I have championed for residents as Other Registerable Interests, and if they want to come after me, so be it.

I am not going to accept this. I will finish my amended Code of Conduct, and request its placed on the agenda for the Policies and Personnel meeting on 17th July. I could really use some support from residents on the night to put the other Councillors under public pressure and enourage them to find their spines and do the right thing.

The LGA has no business setting our Policies. The whole premise of getting the same Code of Conduct everywhere is WRONG. It is for each individual Council to write and gradually refine its own Policies according to the expectations of residents and the wisdom of Councillors over the years. This is part of what is wrong with our democracy and why it is failing.

Finally, consider this. This new Code, which simply put has the effect of silencing Councillors who fight back, has been rolled out across the whole Country at the same time as we're getting authoritarian policies like Digitial ID, 15 Minute Cities, and WHO lockdown treaties all being pushed through from above.

We need to start saying NO.

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