There are three posts that all local authorities (not parish councils or town councils) have a legal duty to have. Our posts are allocated to the following post-holders within the Council:
- The Head of Paid Service: Chief Executive;
- The Chief Financial Officer: Interim Director Corporate Services; and
- The Monitoring Officer: Assistant Director Legal and Democratic Services.
The Monitoring Officer has the specific duty to ensure that the Council, its officers, and its Elected Councillors, maintain the highest standards of conduct in all they do. The main duties of the Monitoring Officer are set out below. The Monitoring Officer's legal basis is found in Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (as amended).
The Monitoring Officer has three main roles:
- To report on matters he/she believes are, or are likely to be, illegal or amount to maladministration;
- To be responsible for matters relating to the conduct of Councillors and officers; and
- To be responsible for the operation of our Constitution.
In order to ensure separation of roles, the Monitoring Officer may not also fulfil the duties of the Chief Finance Officer or the Head of Paid Service.
Reporting on any proposal, decision, or omission that is, or may be, illegal
The Monitoring Officer has a duty to write a report if he/she considers any proposal, decision, or omission made by us, or on behalf of us, is illegal or would be illegal. This is not a duty to write a report every time an allegation of illegality is made, but only if, in his/her personal opinion, that it did, or will occur. The duty is a personal duty, and the Monitoring Officer cannot delegate it to someone else unless he/she is ill, or away, in which case the Deputy Monitoring Officer can take over the role. The Deputy Monitoring Officer will also act when the issue involves the Monitoring Officer him/herself, or regards some advice he/she has previously given. The Monitoring Officer has designated the Assistant Director Legal Services to fulfil the position of Deputy Monitoring Officer.
Promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct
The Monitoring Officer contributes in the promotion and maintenance of high standards of conduct by Councillors and officers both generally and through support to the Accounts and Governance Committee.
The Monitoring Officer is responsible for:
- monitoring and reviewing the operation of our Constitution, to ensure that the aims and principles of our Constitution are given full effect; and
- matters of interpretation of the Constitution's Rules and Procedures and is responsible for making a determination if necessary.
The Monitoring Officer carries out the following functions as specific responsibilities of the position:
- reporting on contraventions or likely contraventions of any enactment or rule of law and reporting on any maladministration or injustice where the Ombudsman has carried out an investigation;
- establishing and maintaining registers of Members' interests and gifts and hospitality;
- maintaining, reviewing and monitoring the Constitution;
- advising Members on the interpretation of the Code of Conduct;
- supporting the Accounts and Governance Committee;
- conducting or delegating the conduct of investigations into misconduct;
- performing ethical framework functions in relation to Parish Councils;
- providing advice and training to District, Town and Parish Members in relation to the operation of the Code of Conduct;
- acting as the Proper Officer for access to information - the Monitoring Officer ensures that Executive decisions, together with the reasons for those decisions, and relevant reports and background papers, are made publicly available as soon as possible;
- making arrangements for relevant matters to be considered by the Accounts and Governance Committee with regard to an initial assessment, any review, and the consideration of final investigation reports and hearings, and to advise the Accounts and Governance Committee on such matters;
- advising whether executive decisions are within the budgetary and policy framework;
- advising on vires issues, maladministration, impropriety and probity issues to all Members;
- receiving reports and taking action under our Confidential Reporting Code;
- acting as our corporate complaints officer and liaison officer for the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman; and
- acting as the 'qualified person' for the purposes of determining whether disclosure of particular information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.