Joint statement agreed by Civility and Respect Project Working Group 05/07/2021

The Civility and Respect Project Working Group have issued a joint statement summarising the core aims and values for securing permanent change in the local council sector.

The joint statement has been issued by the Civility and Respect Project Working Group. The group includes representatives from the National Association of Local Councils, county associations, One Voice Wales and the Society of Local Council Clerks. The group aims to tackle the issues of standards and behaviour in the sector with all groups working together to secure these aims.

The joint statement reads:

“Civility and respect should be at the heart of public life and good governance is fundamental to ensuring an effective and well-functioning democracy at all levels.

The intimidation, abuse, bullying and harassment of councillors, professional officers and staff, in person or online, is totally unacceptable; whether that is by councillors, professional officers, staff or members of the public.

This can prevent councils from functioning effectively, councillors from representing local people, discourage people from getting involved including standing for election, and undermine public confidence and trust in local democracy.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), county associations and One Voice Wales (OVW), as the membership organisations representing the first tier of local government in England and Wales, and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) as the professional body for clerks, are committed to working together to promote civility and respect in public life, good governance, positive debate and supporting the well-being of councillors, professional officers and staff.

To that end the group will be working to deliver tangible resources, actions and interventions in four main areas: providing councils with the tools to support good governance; lobbying to strengthen the standards regime and encourage more people to get involved; training; and processes to intervene to provide support to struggling councils.”

The group have also finalised plans for the appointment of a fixed-term project officer, funded by NALC and the SLCC, to drive forward the projects’ key priorities and objectives. The meeting has also discussed a local resolution protocol, linking to the Improvement and Development Board and more lobbying work.

Previously, NALC has urged the government to respond to the review of Local Government Ethical Standards which was prepared by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and published in January 2019. The government confirmed in March that it intends to publish its response alongside a consultation on the recommendations.

The SLCC has more information here on their website