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Remove Standards Committees from District Councils

Comment 7th July 2010

The administration of Standards was passed to District Councils 2 years ago. This has led some councils (North Norfolk District Council in particular) to use their powers as a big stick to force control and compliance of Town and Parish Councils rather than enforce standards.

Councillors who have voted against staff recommendations have found themselves subjected to complaints generated by the District Council under the Code of Conduct. They have been threatened with large fines and even possible imprisonment for apparent breaches of their code so that many unpaid councillors have had to hire solicitors at great expense to defend them.

Legal threats are made to enforce councillors' silence about their investigation. This has stopped them from speaking about matters they wre elected to represent and is an affront to democracy and natural justice as the District Council acts as accuser, judge, jury and appeal court. The administration of Standards must be removed from District Councils.

Why does this matter?

Local democracy is being fundamentally damaged by District Council Standards Committees.

The Standards Committees are frequently breaching the standards they are supposed to administer.

Standards for England is failing utterly to enforce and control District Council Standards Committees.

People are being prevented from joining local councils because of the treatment of councillors and many councillors are resigning rather than subject themselves to the tribunal process.

Standards Committees investigations are slow, oppressive, very expensive damaging and unjust.

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