THE NEW chair of the Commission for Local Administration has welcomed the publication of a code of conduct for council employees, saying the reputation of local government is one of its "most precious assets".
Edward Osmotherly, who succeeded Sir David Yardley in October, says local government "cannot flourish unless everyone believes it is straight" and has called on councils to adopt the Local Government Management Board's code or devise one of equal merit.
Speaking at a recent conference of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, Osmotherly said members had a well-established code of conduct and it was "a good thing" for officers also to be subject to a code.
"We recognise that the need for this code of conduct is perhaps greater now than ever before in view of the movement in many authorities towards increased delegation to officers, and the creation of the client/contractor split in relation to compulsory competitive tendering and indeed voluntary tendering arrangements," said Osmotherly.
"That is an assurance to members and to the public that the issue of propriety with respect to officers is taken just as seriously as it is with members."
Dudley Lewis, Bristol City Clerk and president of the Bristol Law Society, echoes Osmotherly's comments.
He says: "Local authorities have a fundamental democratic role to play at a local level. Like any other public body they should be seen to be operating beyond reproach."
"The standards of probity in public life are of paramount importance," says Lewis.
"The code of conduct produced by the Local Government Management Board appears to be a most comprehensive and useful document which local authorities will need to give serious consideration to adopting."