Your Roles in the Council
As a councillor, you may be nominated by your council to sit onvarious types of outside bodies such as community organisations, housing associations and local companies. Being a council representative on an outside body does not necessarily mean that you will be representing the council’s interests on the organisation. You will be expected to act in the interests of the outside body and exercise independent judgement in making decisions, in accordance with your duty of care to the body. You may have regard to the interests of the council, but this should not be the overriding consideration. In some cases (e.g. if you are the director of a company or a trustee of a charity – see below) voting in the council’s interests could be a breach of your duty to the body.
Your council may have adopted a policy on how and when reports are to be presented on what the organisation is doing. You should ensure that you know what is expected of you in terms of reporting back.
However, you should also ensure that any reports that you present to the council do not breach any duty of confidentiality you may have to the outside body.
You should ensure that details of your appointment onto the outside body are included on the register of interests kept by the Monitoring Officer. The outside body may also have its own register of interest, which you should complete.
When the outside body considers issues related to your council you should declare a personal interest. The specific rules adopted by each body will vary and you should ask for advice and guidance from the secretary of the organisation and/or the Monitoring Officer, as appropriate. If the outside body has a Code of Conduct you should observe it – if it does not, you should follow the Members’ Code of Conduct.
When the council considers issues relating to or affecting the outside body you must declare a personal interest in accordance with the Code of Conduct. If this is your only interest, it will not be considered a prejudicial interest unless the matter relates to an approval, consent, licence, permission or registration and therefore you will be allowed to take part in the debate and vote. Confidential information must be treated with care and if you have any doubt over the status of any information then you should keep it confidential and check with the relevant officer. You must always observe duties of confidentiality – both to the council and the outside body. Deliberate leaking or disclosing of confidential information will be a breach of the Code of Conduct. If you are hoping to be appointed to an outside body it is important that you have the time and skills necessary to take on the responsibility.