LETTER: The seven principles of public life...

THE following is taken from the First Report of The Committee for Standards in Public Life (CSPL), 1995.

The descriptors were revised in the Fourteenth Report, 2013.

The Seven Principles of Public Life apply to anyone who works as a public office holder. This includes all those who are elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally and all people appointed to work in the Civil Service, local government, the police, courts etc, and in health, education, social and care services.

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All public office holders are both servants of the public and stewards of public resources.

The seven principles are:

SELFLESSNESS: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of public interest

INTEGRITY: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their families, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

OBJECTIVITY: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

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ACCOUNTABILITY: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

OPENNESS: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

HONESTY: Holders of public office should be truthful.

LEADERSHIP: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

I know it is not terrifically entertaining, but I have quoted it in full because it might be interesting to set the recent conduct of Cllrs Read and Roche against those standards.

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For example, is it good enough for Cllr Read simply to assert that the councillor allowances are set by an independent committee? (see Rotherham Advertiser, July 13, p4, Cabinet is 15K over city’s cost)

As ratepayers, aren’t we entitled to know who they are and how they came to the conclusion that Rotherham councillors merit greater remuneration than those of the big city?

I think items four and especially five of the seven principles (Openness) says we are. The complacency of Cllr Read’s approach to public office is quite surprising especially given that the council was, until recently, subject to special measures.  You would have thought that the traumas of the last few years would have had some impact on the current standards in public life in Rotherham: a new determination to do it better, perhaps. But no. The contempt with which they have always treated us, and that I have referred to on these pages previously, glides serenely on impervious to any and all criticism.

It is not entirely clear from the Advertiser article, but it appears possible from the figures that special responsibility allowances were still being paid while the responsibilities had actually been removed. Can the Advertiser comment on that, please, and if it is so, could somebody at the council explain it?

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Then, of course, there is Cllr Roche. The closure of the adult day care centres is not, he says, a cost cutting exercise. In that case, it must be policy initiative. And in that case, is it safe to assume that there is a stated objective and a defined operating procedure? So what is it?

Those in need of adult social care need to be told how the new policy works, and what they should do to get the best from it. We also need to know what the advantages of the new provisions are over those that they replace. Again items four and five of the seven principles surely apply here. But look also at item seven.  Instead of leadership, Cllr Roche appears to be doing his level best to divest himself of any special responsibility. Can we assume that when he has done that he will relinquish the special responsibility allowance too? Yes? No?

Richard Beeley, Maltby


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