Scottish Borders Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Newtown St. Boswells

Contact: Louise McGeoch Tel : 01835 825005  Email:

No. Item


Annual Report on Councillors' Compliance with the Ethical Standards Framework for 2016-17 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Consider report by Monitoring Officer.  (Copy attached.)



1.2     There had been circulated copies of a report by the Monitoring Officer which provided details on Scottish Borders Council's compliance with the Ethical Standards Framework for 2016 – 2017 and also considered matters relating to Training, Register of Interest and the Hospitality Register.


1.3     During 2016 - 17 the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life received a total of 174 complaints relating to 106 cases, which represented a reduction in both the number of complaints and number of cases over the previous years.   The majority of complaints received (165) were against Councillors in Local Authorities.  The subject matters which attracted complaints were detailed in the report and the main changes from 2015/16 included a significant reduction in complaints relating to misconduct on individual applications and reductions in the number of complaints relating to breach of key principles and misconduct relating to lobbying.  There were modest increases in both the failure to register an interest and failure to declare an interest and in the breach of confidentiality category.   The majority of complaints (110) were made by members of the public followed by complaints submitted by Councillors (54).


1.4     During 2016-17, 5 complaints were lodged against 5 Scottish Borders Councillors.  Of the 5 complaints, 1 was internal, i.e. submitted by a Councillor or Officer, and 4 were external, i.e. submitted by a member of the public or external organisation.  The complaints received in 2016-17 covered the following areas:- (a) Disrespect of Councillors/Officials/Public (4 complaints) and Conflict of Interest/Declarations of Interest.   None of the complaints received resulted in reports by the Standards Commissioner to the Standards Commission. One complaint was not pursued by the complainant after contacting the Council.  Two of the complaints were resolved internally following internal investigations.  In one instance it was concluded that no breach had occurred.  The remaining complaint was referred by the complainant to the Commissioner.  The Commissioner concluded that there had been no breach of the Code of Conduct and took no further action in respect of that complaint.


1.5    The report went on to explain that the Elected Members’ Registers of Interests were published on the Council’s website and were also available to view in paper format from Democratic Services.  The Registers were reviewed every six months and were amended according to the information provided by the Members.  They were maintained in accordance with the Ethical Standards and Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (Register of Interest) Regulations 2003, as amended. Members were also required to comply with Section 4 of the Code of Conduct whereby the Registers were updated when a Registerable Interest changed. 


1.6     Elected Members were required, on a monthly basis, to complete a Hospitality Register within which they would declare hospitality/gifts offered (valued at over £50), whether accepted or not.  Members were also required to send a completed monthly pro-forma return (including nil returns) to Democratic Services, who maintained the Members’ Hospitality Register.  All forms were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.


Any Other Items which the Chairman Decides are Urgent.



2.1     Under Section 50B(4)(b) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the Chairman was of the opinion that the item dealt with in the following paragraph should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency, in view of the need for Member to make an early decision.



3.1     The Chairman was of the opinion that the Committee should enhance their involvement in relation to complaints against Councillors rather than referring directly to the Commissioner.  The Monitoring Officer stressed that every effort was made to resolve issues prior to referring to the Commissioner.  





          (a)     there be two meetings scheduled in the year;


          (b)     that the Committee meet on an Ad hoc basis when required, to consider complaints against Councillors.





The meeting concluded at 10.45 a.m.




Scottish Borders Council

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