This guidance note accompanies the Code of Conduct complaint form and the Code of Conduct complaints procedure. It is recommended that you consider the guidance before making your complaint.
A Code of Conduct complaint is where someone makes a complaint alleging that a Councillor (either from Warrington Borough Council or from a Parish Council in the Warrington Borough) has acted in breach of their Code of Conduct. It is not the process for complaints about Council officers or services.
NOTE – Parish Councils have their own Code of Conduct which can be obtained by contacting the Clerk to the respective Parish Council and requesting a copy.
The following points are helpful in making sure that you submit a valid Code of Conduct complaint.
- The complaint has to be in writing. A form is available to assist. You do not have to use this form but it is helpful in setting out the details that you should provide.
- Anonymous complaints will not be considered. If you want to have your name withheld during the complaint process there is an opportunity on the complaint form to make that request. However, the Monitoring Officer will make a decision on the request and if it is decided that your name should not be withheld then you will be asked if you wish to continue with your complaint or withdraw it before proceeding further.
- You should include as much detail as possible as part of your complaint including and documentary evidence and names of witnesses or those that may provide evidence to support your complaint.
- Consider what you want the outcome of your complaint to be and set it out in the complaint document. Complaints that are about Council services, policies and/or performance will not be considered as part of this process and may be referred to the relevant service area in accordance with the Council’s Complaints Policy.
- Similarly, complaints that are really about the political policies or performance of a Councillor in their role will not be considered by the Councillor Code of Conduct complaint process. Such complaints may be referred to the councillor and/or their political group for response.
- Part of the decision as to whether a complaint merits further action such as an investigation will depend upon the type of complaint. For example, complaints that are; frivolous, vexatious, repetitious, considered minor (‘tit for tat’) and/or relate to incidents or events more than six months old will not usually be considered in the public interest to take any action upon.
- The Council is limited by legislation as to what sanction can be imposed upon a Councillor who is found to have breached the Code. For example, a Standards Hearing Committee cannot disqualify or suspend a Councillor from holding public office. Accordingly please be aware that if the aforementioned sanctions are what you are seeking then this will not be possible via the Councillor Code of Conduct complaint process.
- Code of Conduct complaints will usually be considered after other relevant complaints processes have been followed. For example; criminal investigations, political group processes (including mediation processes for councillors), member/officer protocol procedures (for complaints by council employees) and complaints that relate to a incidents/events of another authority will normally be allowed to proceed first followed by consideration afterwards as to whether it is appropriate for a Code of Conduct complaint on the same matter to be considered.
- Whilst every attempt is made to make the complaints process as expedient as possible, the process can take some time particularly if the matter is referred to an investigation. Moreover, if you do make a complaint please be aware that you may be contacted to be interviewed as part of any investigation process and you may be asked to attend a hearing of the Standards Committee to give evidence in support of your complaint.
If you wish to have an informal chat about a matter that you think you may wish to make a complaint about you can contact the Monitoring Officer
If you are considering whether a Code of Conduct complaint is the appropriate way of addressing an issue which has arisen with a Councillor you can seek your own independent legal advice.