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Councillors' Code of Conduct

Information on the rules which apply to the council members on the way they go about their work

There are internal rules which apply to the council members in the way they go about their work, but they are also subject to external control through the Standards Commission. (opens new window)  The Standards Commission is responsible for enforcing the Councillors Code of Conduct (opens new window), which is a statutory document that applies to all elected members of local authorities in Scotland.

The Standards Commission (opens new window) has also issued guidance for elected members about the Code. This is non-statutory, but elected members are still required to have regard to it. For some interests, the Standards Commission has issued general and specific dispensations to avoid elected members having to withdraw from consideration of certain items of business at meetings.

The Councillors Code of Conduct (opens new window) requires every elected member to complete a Register of Interests (opens new window), and each council has to set up and maintain that Register for its members. The register contains a list of financial interests and important non-financial interests which each member is required to make public.

As well as the Register of Interests (opens new window), elected members are required to make declarations about any interests they may have at any meetings which they attend as councillors. The entries in their Register of Interests must be declared, but any other significant interests have to be declared too which do not appear in the Register. As well as declaring an interest, elected members then have to take a decision about whether it is appropriate for them to take part in the meeting in light of that interest. If they decide that reasonable members of the public might take the view that the interest would affect the way they deal with the issue at the meeting, then they may feel bound to withdraw from the meeting when that particular item of business is considered.

Complaints about elected members may be made to the council, by writing to the Chief Executive, but may also be made to the Standards Commission. (opens new window) where the Code of Conduct is involved. Those complaints should be made to Public Standards Commissioner for Scotland (opens new window),

The Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland
39 Drumsheugh Gardens

Tel: 0300 011 0550 
Fax: 0131 220 5419