Behaviour of Sheffield councillors scrutinised as new report says they should be committed to 'highest ethical standards'

The behaviour of Sheffield councillors has come under the spotlight, as a new report says they should be committed to the ‘highest ethical standards’.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 11:45 am

The council is reviewing its code of conduct ahead of a referendum next May on how it should operate in future.

Coun Jack Scott, a former Cabinet member, is still suspended by the Labour Party and Coun Neale Gibson recently had the whip temporarily removed by Labour after appearing in front of the standards board.

A set of principles has been drawn up by the overview and scrutiny board, which says:

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Councillors’ behaviour has come under the spotlight as a new report says they should be committed to the 'highest ethical standards'

“Scrutiny is important and should be strengthened in any future decision making structure.

“We must be held accountable for the decisions that we take, and embrace challenge to ensure we’re getting the best outcomes for Sheffield.

“There are high expectations about councillor conduct. Regardless of decision making structure, our governance should be underpinned by a commitment to the highest ethical standards as set out in the Nolan Standards on Public Life.

“We are in the process of reviewing the councillor code of conduct to ensure it is fit for purpose.”

The board has also looked at criticism of full council meetings. A recent one erupted in a row across the chamber, prompting the Lord Mayor to intervene.

Afterwards Green councillor Alison Teal said: “Democracy, or any respect for it, is barely alive in this horrible mean spirited chamber.”

The scrutiny report adds: “Many councillors feel the current approach does not provide a meaningful forum for debate.

“Full council should be reviewed in the light of changes following the referendum and consider how we could make it a more meaningful forum.

“We recognise that influencing decision making isn’t something that only happens in the Town Hall. People, partners and groups want to be able to work with their councillors on issues that matter in their local neighbourhoods.

“We need to consider how we can strengthen ward councillors’ ability to influence outcomes in their local areas.”

The full report can be read here.