The public expects the highest possible standards from the people it elects and Newark and Sherwood District Council’s Standards Committee helps ensure that’s the case when it comes to district and parish councillors.
All councillors sign up to a national code of conduct when they are elected, but the Standards Committee is an added element which ensures local elected members uphold the highest standards in public life. The committee is a forum for complaints about the conduct of a district or parish councillor.
Made up of district councillors, parish councillors and independent members, the committee has the power to investigate allegations of wrong-doing and, in very serious cases, can impose sanctions on councillors. The committee also works with councillors to ensure they are trained to carry out their duties effectively and that they understand the behaviour expected of them as a councillor.
Conduct which can be challenged through the Standards Committee includes behaving with a lack of respect towards others or taking advantage of a privileged position.
The committee recently elected its members for the coming year including a new chairman, Mrs Pam White JP of Newark.
Mrs White has lived in Newark for 30 years and has been on the local magistrates’ bench for 20 years. Her husband, Mike, is a paramedic in Nottinghamshire. Mrs White was deputy chairman last year, having served on the committee for the last three years.
She said: “As a major Growth Point, it is an exciting and interesting time to be involved in political life in Newark and Sherwood.
“I think it is important to convey to people outside of the council that there is a responsible body overseeing councillors’ conduct and we take very seriously what we do.
“However, as well as how councillors behave, we’re also keen to make people aware of how the council’s processes work. I’m looking forward to working with all councillors and my fellow committee members.”
The remainder of the committee is made up of independent members Mr David Lipman of Caythorpe, Notts, Mr Malcolm Mason of Rolleston and the Rev Reg Walton of Newark. Parish council members are councillors Ian Harrison of North Muskham Parish Council, Walter Hurst of Balderton Town Council and David Brewer of Sutton-on-Trent Parish Council.
District council members are Councillors Rita Crowe of Newark, Peter Duncan of Newark, Peter Harris of Southwell, Dennis Jones of Newark, Declan Logue of Farndon, Melvyn Shaw of Collingham and Ben Wells of Ollerton.
From former sales people to vicars, from sports fans to theatre goers, there is no set model for Standards Committee members.
The council is seeking an additional parish representative on the committee to fill a vacancy. Any serving parish councillor who is interested should contact the council’s Democratic Services Team on 01636 655243 or visit www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/standards for further information.
If you are unhappy about the way a district, parish or town councillor has behaved you can make a complaint to the council’s Monitoring Officer in the first instance through the web address above or by calling 01636 650000.