Councillors code of conduct

There are rules which apply to councillors in the way they go about their work, but they are also subject to external control through the standards commission

The standards commission is responsible for enforcing the councillors code of conduct, which is a statutory document that applies to all elected members of local authorities in Scotland.

Registration of interests

The councillors code of conduct requires every councillor to complete a register of Interests on an annual basis, and each council has to set up and maintain that register for its councillors. The register contains a list of financial interests and important non-financial interests which each councillor is required to make public. 

Declaration of Interests

As well as the register of interests, councillors are required to make declarations about any interests they may have at any meetings which they attend as councillors. The entries in their Register of Interests must be declared, but any other significant interests which do not appear in the register have to be declared too.

Councillors have to take a decision about whether it is appropriate for them to take part in the meeting in light of any interests they have. If they decide that reasonable members of the public may take a view that an interest would affect the way they deal with an issue at a meeting, then they may feel bound to declare the interest and withdraw from the meeting when that particular item of business is considered. 

For some interests, the Standards Commission has issued general and specific dispensations to avoid councillors having to withdraw from consideration of certain items of business at meetings.

Complaints about Councillors

Complaints about councillors may be made to the council, by writing to the Chief Executive, but may also be made to the Standards Commission, where the code of conduct is involved.  Those complaints should be made to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland.