New committee can sanction city councillors

A new ethics committee will decide on sanctions against Peterborough city councillors found to have breached their code of conduct.

Sunday, 3rd June 2018, 6:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 10:32 am
Cllr David Seaton

The committee made up of councillors has been set up after poor behaviour at previous Full Council meetings.

The committee can issue a sanction if an investigation finds the Members’ Code of Conduct has been breached.

Sanctions can include a formal “censure” (reprimand), a requirement to go on training, removal from a council committee, or a requirement to give an apology.

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However, council leader Cllr John Holdich wants a new code of conduct to be developed which will allow for “meaningful sanctions”. He also believes an option to recall councillors for early elections should be looked at.

“We have got to have something that fits the crime,” he said. “The time is right to try and get councillors to sign up to a new code of conduct. The sanctions we have now are not acceptable to the public.”

The chair of the committee is cabinet member Cllr David Seaton who has recently had four complaints against him resolved. Two for behaviour at a meeting were resolved informally, and two relating to social media comments were not upheld - one because it was found he was not acting officially as a councillor, and another as the complainant did not reply to council requests for further information.

Another committee member is Labour’s Cllr Ed Murphy who, the council said, is due to apologise to Cllr Seaton for social media comments.

The committee will also have further responsibilities including recommending amendments to the council’s constitution, approving any changes to the council’s whistleblowing policy and appointing members of the council’s Independent Remuneration Panel.