CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

MHCLG – TOWN AND PARISH COUNCILLORS (3) [11432] - 03 February 2020

MHCLG – TOWN AND PARISH COUNCILLORS (3) [11432] - 03 February 2020

Dr Julian Lewis:  To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what sanctions are (a) available and (b) proposed for use against town and parish (i) councils that implement ultra-vires decisions and (ii) councillors that instruct clerks to implement ultra-vires decisions leading to the resignation of those clerks; and what mechanisms there are to enforce those sanctions.  [11432]

[To be Answered on 11 February.]

ANSWER

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing (Luke Hall):  The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 enables local electors to ask the auditor of a parish council to apply to the High Court for a declaration that an item of account is ultra vires or unlawful, or to issue a report on matters which are in the public interest (‘a public interest report’). The auditor may also make such a declaration or issue a public interest report without any request from a local elector. The council is required to publicly respond to any report in the public interest issued by the auditor.

Under the Localism Act 2011 parish councils are required to adopt a code of conduct for members. Parish councillors that fail to observe the highest standards of conduct in their civic role may be investigated by the principal council’s monitoring officer on receipt of a complaint. Currently, the parish council may locally determine its response, following advice from the Monitoring Officer or legal team and the involvement of an independent person to advise the council before it makes a decision.