Unresolved questions as committee to uphold councillor standards in Breckland area meets for last time

The soon-to-be-abolished standards committee that judges complaints against councillors in Breckland met for the last time today, with key questions about its replacement still unanswered.

The cabinet last week recommended handing the role of the standards committee, where two independent members sit alongside parish and district councillors, to the audit committee, made up of district councillors.

The change came after the Government repealed legislation requiring councils to have a standards committee.

The standards committee this afternoon expressed concern the council did not know if it could enforce sanctions against councillors who breach its code of conduct because the Government had not yet published the relevant regulations.

Members were also worried the proposed new regime did not include an appeals process, leaving councillors to take expensive judicial review at the High Court in London to revisit decisions made locally.

The new regime includes an independent person, appointed by a majority of Breckland councillors, who must be consulted before the council decides whether a member had breached its code.

A final decision on the plans will be made by the council on Thursday May 24, with the current standards committee due to be dissolved on June 30 unless it has any outstanding cases.

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