The role of Councillor is a vital part of our country’s system of democracy. It is important that as Councillors we can be held accountable and all adopt the behaviours and responsibilities associated with the role. Our conduct as an individual Councillor affects the reputation of all Councillors.  We want the role of Councillor to be one that people aspire to. We also want individuals from a range of backgrounds and circumstances to be putting themselves forward to become Councillors.

As Councillors, we represent local residents, work to develop better services and deliver local change. The public have high expectations of us and entrust us to represent our local area, taking decisions fairly, openly, and transparently. We have both an individual and collective responsibility to meet these expectations by maintaining high standards and demonstrating good conduct, and by challenging behaviour which falls below expectations.

Importantly, we should be able to undertake our role as a Councillor without being intimidated, abused, bullied or threatened by anyone, including the general public.

This Code has been designed to protect our democratic role, encourage good conduct and safeguard the public’s trust in local government.


All councils are required to adopt a local Councillor Code of Conduct. Brighton & Hove City Council (‘BHCC’) has chosen to adopt a Code which is based on the Local Government Association’s Model Councillor Code of Conduct, developed in association with key partners and after extensive consultation with the sector.

BHCC’s Code of Conduct covers all elected Members and co-opted Members (together referred to in this Code as ‘Member’ or ‘Members’ as appropriate) of Brighton & Hove City Council whenever they are acting as a member or representative of the council or when they are behaving in a way which meets the description described in the paragraph entitled Application of the Code of Conduct below. The Code is reviewed regularly and in any event at least once every three years. The Independent Persons who are appointed to the Council’s Audit and Standards Committee are also expected to abide by this Code in terms of the standards of behaviour they observe and by voluntarily declaring any interests they have in any matter under discussion at any meeting.

The requirements outlined in this Code regarding the Declaration of Interests at Meetings apply to formal meetings of the Council, its Committees and Sub-Committees and its joint Committees and Sub-Committees. Members are however encouraged to voluntarily declare at all meetings, both formal and informal, any facts which they consider may be relevant to the perception of their decision-making, this although they are not required to do so. The Code does not apply when Members are acting or appearing in the perception of a reasonable person to be acting in a purely private capacity.

This Code of Conduct should be read alongside the Council’s corporate values: respect, collaboration, efficiency, openness, creativity, and customer focus, which are appended hereto.

All Members are bound by the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, which amongst other things prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. In addition, Members are expected to promote equality in their actions and behaviours.

When applying and interpreting this Code of Conduct, Members should have regard to the following policies and documents (as amended from time to time):

  • (a) Council Procedure Rules
  • (b) Arrangements regarding the Register of Members’ Interests
  • (c) Practice Note – Use of Council Facilities
  • (d) Protocol for Members regarding planning applications
  • (e) Code of Conduct for Member/Officer Relations
  • (f)  Guidance for Members on Correspondence
  • (g) Guidance on confidentiality
  • (h) Anti-fraud and Corruption Strategy
  • (i)  Whistleblowing Policy


For the purposes of this Code of Conduct, a “Councillor” means a member or co-opted member of a local authority. A “co-opted member” is defined in the Localism Act 2011 Section 27(4). It is a person who is not an elected member of the authority, but has both been co-opted onto one of its committees or subcommittees, or who sits on any joint committee or joint sub-committee of the authority and is entitled to vote on any question that falls to be decided at any meeting of that committee or sub-committee.

The requirement to appoint at least one “Independent Person” and a description of that role is in Section 28(7) of the Localism Act 2011.

For the purposes of this Code of Conduct, “local authority” includes county councils, district councils, London borough councils, parish councils, town councils, fire and  rescue authorities, police authorities, joint authorities, economic prosperity boards, combined authorities and National Park authorities.



The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to assist you, as a Councillor, in modelling  the behaviour that is expected of you, to provide a personal check and balance, and  to set out the type of conduct that could lead to action being taken against you. It is also to protect you, the public, fellow Councillors, local authority officers and the reputation of local government. It sets out the general principles of conduct expected of all Councillors and your specific obligations in relation to standards of conduct. The fundamental aim of the Code is to create and maintain public confidence in the role of Councillor and local government.

General principles of Councillor conduct

Everyone in public office at all levels; all who serve the public or deliver public  services, including ministers, civil servants, Councillors and local authority officers;  should uphold the  Seven Principles of Public Life, also known as the Nolan Principles.

Building on these principles, the following general principles have been developed specifically for the role of Councillor.

In accordance with the public trust placed in me, on all occasions:

  • I act with integrity and honesty
  • I act lawfully
  • I treat all persons fairly and with respect
  • I lead by example and act in a way that secures public confidence in the role of Councillor

In undertaking my role:

  • I impartially exercise my responsibilities in the interests of the local community
  • I do not improperly seek to confer an advantage, or disadvantage, on any person
  • I avoid conflicts of interest
  • I exercise reasonable care and diligence
  • I ensure that public resources are used prudently in accordance with my local authority’s requirements and in the public interest

Application of the Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct applies to you as soon as you sign your declaration of acceptance of the office of Councillor or attend your first meeting as a co-opted member and continues to apply to you until you cease to be a Councillor.

This Code of Conduct applies to you when you are acting in your capacity as a Councillor. It may include when:

  • you misuse your position as a Councillor, or
  • your actions may or could give the impression to a reasonable member of the public  with knowledge of all the facts that you are acting as a Councillor, or are such as to create the risk that such an impression could be generated.

The Code applies to all forms of communication and interaction, including:

  • at face-to-face meetings
  • at online or telephone meetings
  • in written communication
  • in verbal communication
  • in non-verbal communication
  • in electronic and social media communication, posts, statements and comments

You are also expected to uphold high standards of conduct and to show leadership at all times when acting as a Councillor.

Your Monitoring Officer has statutory responsibility for the implementation of the  Code of Conduct, and you are encouraged to seek advice from your Monitoring Officer on any matters that may relate to the Code of Conduct. Town and parish Councillors are encouraged to seek advice from their Clerk, who may refer matters to the Monitoring Officer.

Standards of Councillor conduct

This section sets out in bold type your obligations, which are the minimum standards of conduct required of you as a Councillor. Should your conduct fall short of these standards, a complaint may be made against you, which may result in action being taken.

Guidance is included in ordinary font to help explain the reasons for the obligations and how they should be followed.

General Conduct

1.  Respect

As a Councillor:

  • 1.1 I treat other Councillors and members of the public with respect.
  • 1.2 I treat local authority employees, employees and representatives of partner organisations and those volunteering for the local authority with respect and respect the role they play.

Respect means politeness and courtesy in behaviour, speech, and in the written word. Debate and having different views are all part of a healthy democracy. As a Councillor, you can express, challenge, criticise and disagree with views, ideas, opinions and policies in a robust but civil manner. You should not, however, subject individuals, groups of people or organisations to personalised attack.

In your contact with the public, you should treat them politely and courteously. Rude and offensive behaviour lowers the public’s expectations and its confidence in Councillors.

In return, you have a right to expect respectful behaviour from the public. If members of the public are being abusive, intimidatory or threatening you are entitled to stop any conversation or interaction in person or online and report them to the local authority, the relevant social media provider or the police. This also applies to fellow Councillors, where action could then be taken under the Councillor Code of Conduct, and local authority employees, where concerns should be raised in line with the Code of Conduct for Member/Officer Relations.

2.  Bullying, harassment and discrimination

As a Councillor:

  • 2.1 I do not bully any person.
  • 2.2 I do not harass any person.
  • 2.3 I promote equalities and do not discriminate unlawfully against any person, nor do I cause the Council to breach any of its equality duties

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) characterises bullying as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Bullying might be a regular pattern of behaviour or a one-off incident, happen face-to-face, on social media, in emails or phone calls, happen in the workplace or at work social events and may not always be obvious or noticed by others.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 defines harassment as conduct that causes alarm or distress or puts people in fear of violence and must involve such conduct on at least two occasions. It can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a person in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.

Unlawful discrimination is where someone is treated unfairly because of a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics are specific aspects of a person's identity defined by the Equality Act 2010. They are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

The Equality Act 2010 places specific duties on local authorities. Councillors have a central role to play in ensuring that equality issues are integral to the local authority’s performance and strategic aims, and that there is a strong vision and public commitment to equality across public services.

3.  Officers of the council: impartiality and having regard to advice

3.1   As a Councillor:

I do not compromise, or attempt to compromise, the impartiality of anyone who works for, or on behalf of, the local authority.

Officers work for the local authority as a whole and must be politically neutral (unless they are political assistants). They should not be coerced or persuaded to act in a way that would undermine their neutrality. You can question officers in order to understand, for example, their reasons for proposing to act in a particular way, or the  content of a report that they have written. However, you must not try and force them to act differently, change their advice, or alter the content of that report, if doing so would prejudice their professional integrity.

3.2  When reaching decisions on any matter, I have regard to any relevant advice provided to me by any Council officer discharging the Council’s functions, including the Council’s:

  1. Chief Finance Officer;
  2. Monitoring Officer; and
  3. Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service

where that officer is acting pursuant to their statutory duties.

The Councils’ officers play a key role in ensuring that the Council discharges its functions lawfully. For this reason, Members are required to have regard to any advice provided to them by officers discharging the Council’s functions, particularly where the advice is given by officers appointed to any of the roles listed in (i), (ii) or (iii) above.

4.  Confidentiality and access to information

As a Councillor:

4.1 I do not disclose information:

  •  given to me in confidence by anyone, or
  • acquired by me which I believe, or ought reasonably to be aware, is of a confidential nature, unless
    • I have received the consent of a person authorised to give it;
    • I am required by law to do so;
    • the disclosure is made to a third party for the purpose of obtaining professional legal advice provided that the third party agrees not to disclose the information to any other person; or
    • the disclosure is:
      • reasonable and in the public interest; and
      • made in good faith and in compliance with the reasonable requirements of the local authority.

4.2 I do not improperly use knowledge gained solely as a result of my role as a Councillor for the advancement of myself, my friends, my family members, my employer or my business interests.

4.3 I do not interfere with anyone seeking to obtain information which they are entitled to by law.

Local authorities must work openly and transparently, and their proceedings and printed materials are open to the public, except in certain legally defined circumstances. You should work on this basis, but there will be times when it is required by law that discussions, documents and other information relating to or held by the local authority must be treated in a confidential manner. Examples include personal data relating to individuals or information relating to ongoing negotiations.

5.  Disrepute

As a Councillor:

5.1 I do not bring my role or local authority into disrepute.

As a Councillor, you are trusted to make decisions on behalf of your community and your actions and behaviour are subject to greater scrutiny than that of ordinary members of the public. You should be aware that your actions might have an adverse impact on you, other Councillors and/or your local authority and may lower the public’s confidence in your or your local authority’s ability to discharge your/it’s  functions. For example, behaviour that is considered dishonest and/or deceitful can bring your local authority into disrepute.

You are able to hold the local authority and fellow Councillors to account and are able to constructively challenge and express concern about decisions and processes undertaken by the Council whilst continuing to adhere to other aspects of this Code of Conduct.

6.  Use of position

As a Councillor:

6.1 I do not use, or attempt to use, my position or influence improperly to the advantage or disadvantage of myself or anyone else.

Your position and influence as a member of the local authority provides you with certain opportunities, responsibilities and privileges, and you make choices all the time that will impact others. However, you should not take advantage of these opportunities to further your own or others’ private interests or to disadvantage anyone unfairly.

7.  Use of local authority resources and facilities

As a Councillor:

7.1 I do not misuse council resources.

7.2 I will, when using the resources of the local authority, or when authorising their use by others:

  • a. act in accordance with the local authority's requirements; and
  • b. ensure that such resources are not used for political purposes unless that use could reasonably be regarded as likely to facilitate, or be conducive to, the discharge of the functions of the local authority or of the office to which I have been elected or appointed.

You may be provided with resources and facilities by the local authority to assist you in carrying out your duties as a Councillor.

Examples include:

  • office support
  • stationery
  • equipment such as phones, and computers
  • transport
  • access and use of local authority buildings and rooms.

These are given to you to help you carry out your role as a Councillor more effectively and are not to be used for business or personal gain. They should be used in accordance with the purpose for which they have been provided and the local authority’s own policies regarding their use.

8.  Complying with the Code of Conduct

As a Councillor:

8.1 I undertake Code of Conduct training provided by my local authority.

8.2 I cooperate with any Code of Conduct investigation and/or determination.

8.3 I do not attempt to interfere in any aspect of the investigation, administration or hearing of any complaint or matter.

8.4 I comply with any sanction imposed on me following a finding that I have breached the Code of Conduct.

It is extremely important for you as a Councillor to demonstrate high standards, for you to have your actions open to scrutiny and for you not to undermine public trust in the local authority or its governance. If you do not understand or are concerned about the local authority’s processes in handling a complaint you should raise this with your Monitoring Officer.

Protecting your reputation and the reputation of the local authority

9.  Interests

As a Councillor:

9.1 I register and disclose my interests.

Section 29 of the Localism Act 2011 requires the Monitoring Officer to establish and maintain a register of interests of members of the authority.

You need to register your interests so that the public, local authority employees and fellow Councillors know which of your interests might give rise to a conflict of interest.  The register is a public document that can be consulted when (or before) an issue arises. The register also protects you by allowing you to demonstrate openness and a willingness to be held accountable. You are personally responsible for deciding whether or not you should disclose an interest in a meeting, but it can be helpful for you to know early on if others think that a potential conflict might arise. It is also important that the public know about any interest that might have to be disclosed by you or other Councillors when making or taking

part in decisions, so that decision-making is seen by the public as open and honest. This helps to ensure that public confidence in the integrity of local governance is maintained.

You should note that failure to register or disclose a disclosable pecuniary interest, as set out in Table 1, is a criminal offence under the Localism Act 2011.

If in doubt about how to apply the Code’s detailed provisions on registering and disclosing interests, you should always seek advice from your Monitoring Officer.

10. Gifts and hospitality

As a Councillor:

10.1 I do not accept gifts or hospitality, irrespective of estimated value, which could give rise to real or substantive personal gain or a reasonable suspicion of influence on my part to show favour from persons seeking to acquire, develop or do business with the local authority or from persons who may apply to the local authority for any permission, licence or other significant advantage.

10.2 I register with the Monitoring Officer within 28 days of receipt any gift or hospitality accepted by virtue of my office which constitutes either a) a single instance of a gift or hospitality worth more than an estimated value of £50 or alternatively constitutes b) two or more instances of gifts or hospitality received in from a single source in any given year which taken together have a total estimated value in excess of £100.

10.3 I register with the Monitoring Officer any significant gift or hospitality that I have been offered but have refused to accept.

In order to protect your position and the reputation of the local authority, you should exercise caution in accepting any gifts or hospitality which are (or which you reasonably believe to be) offered to you because you are a Councillor. The presumption should always be not to accept significant gifts or hospitality. However, there may be times when such a refusal may be difficult if it is seen as rudeness in which case you could accept it but must ensure it is publicly registered. However, you do not need to register gifts and hospitality which are not related to your role as a Councillor, such as Christmas gifts from your friends and family. It is also important to note that it is appropriate to accept normal expenses and hospitality associated with your duties as a Councillor. If you are unsure, do contact your Monitoring Officer for guidance.

Appendix A – The Seven Principles of Public Life

The principles are:


Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.


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 family, or their friends. They must disclose and resolve any interests and relationships.


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


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.


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.


Holders of public office should be truthful.


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.


Appendix B - Registering interests

Within 28 days of becoming a member or your re-election or re-appointment to office you must register  with the Monitoring Officer the interests which fall within the categories set out in Table 1 (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) which are as described in The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012. You should also register details of your other personal interests which fall within the categories set out in Table 2 (Other Registerable Interests).

You must ensure that your register of interests is kept up-to-date and within 28 days of becoming aware of any new interest, or of any change to a registered interest, notify the Monitoring Officer.

Disclosable pecuniary interests

These are an interest of yourself, or of your partner if you are aware of your partner's interest, within the descriptions set out in Table 1 below. In this context, "Partner" means a spouse or civil partner, a person with whom you are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom you are living as if you are civil partners.

Non participation in case of a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest

Where a matter arises at a meeting of the Council, one of its committees or sub committees (or at a joint committee or sub committee) which directly relates to one of your Disclosable Pecuniary Interests as set out in Table 1, you must

  • disclose the interest
  • not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and
  • leave the room (in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 25.4) while any discussion or voting takes place.

Note: if your interest is a ‘sensitive interest’, you do not have to disclose the nature of the interest, just that you have an interest.

Dispensation may be granted in limited circumstances to enable you to participate and/or vote on a matter in which you have a disclosable pecuniary interest. 

Nb It is a criminal offence to fail to notify the Monitoring Officer of a disclosable pecuniary interest (as defined in Table 1), to take part in discussion or votes at meetings or to take a decision, where you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, without reasonable excuse.  It is also an offence to knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information to the Monitoring Officer in connection with the registration and/or declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

Other Registrable Interests

Members may have an interest in a matter under consideration even where they do not have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. You must register Other Registrable Interests which are defined as follows (also duplicated in Table 2 below):

  • Any body of which you are in a position of general control or management
  • Any gift or hospitality which you have accepted by virtue of your office and which constitutes either a) a single instance of a gift or hospitality worth more than an estimated value of £50 or alternatively constitutes b) two or more instances of gifts or hospitality received in from a single source in any given year which taken together have a total estimated value in excess of £100.

Other Interests which need not be registered

There is a further category of ‘Other Interests’ which do not need to be registered. These are as follows:

  • Any interest of a financial nature which is not a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, whether of you, your spouse or civil partner, a person with whom you are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom you are living as if you are civil partners

Non-participation in the case of an Other Interest

Where a matter arises at a meeting which directly relates to any Other Interest (whether Registrable or not), then you must declare that interest at the meeting. 

In order to determine whether – after declaring your interest – you may remain in the room and take part in any discussion or vote on the matter then you must consider: 

  • whether a) your interest is affected by the matter under consideration more than the interests of the majority of people in the area affected by the matter, and if so, 
  • whether b) a reasonable member of the public would think your judgement of the public interest would be adversely affected by your interest. 

If you consider that a) and b) apply, then you may speak on the matter only if members of the public are allowed to speak at the meeting, but otherwise must not take part in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not remain in the room unless you have been granted a dispensation.  

Note: if, having applied the above test, you consider you may continue participating in decision-making once you have declared your interest, then you will have a declarable non-prejudicial interest. Where you consider yourself unable to participate in decision-making then it will be because your interest is deemed to be a prejudicial interest.

Sensitive interests

A ‘sensitive interest’ is as an interest which, if disclosed, could lead to the Councillor, or a person connected with the Councillor, being subject to violence or intimidation.  Where you believe you have a ‘sensitive interest’ then you must notify the Monitoring Officer, explaining the reasons why you believe it is a sensitive interest. If the Monitoring Officer agrees, they will withhold the interest from the public register.

Where a matter arises at a meeting which relates to a sensitive interest then you  are not required to disclose the nature of your interest, although you must nonetheless declare the fact that you have an interest  and must follow the rules regarding participation.


On a written request made to the council’s Monitoring Officer, preferably in advance of the meeting, the Monitoring Officer may – following consultation, where reasonably practicable, with either one of the Independent Persons or the Chair of Audit & Standards Committee – grant a Member a dispensation to participate in a discussion and/or vote on a matter at a meeting where they would otherwise not be allowed to if the Monitoring Officer believes:

  1. that the number of Members otherwise prohibited from taking part in the meeting would be so great a proportion of the relevant body as to impede the transaction of the business; or
  2. considers that without the dispensation the representation of different political groups would be so upset as to alter the likely outcome of any vote; or
  3. considers that it is in the interests of the inhabitants in the council’s area to allow the Member to take part; or
  4. considers that it is otherwise appropriate to grant a dispensation.

Members are not required to register or declare an interest that is shared with ordinary members of the public living or working in the area (such as the payment of, or liability to pay, council tax, or having bins collected) or that arises simply from being a Member (such as Members’ allowances); or where the interest is otherwise de minimis.

Accordingly, no Member will need a dispensation to take part in the business of setting the council tax or precept or local arrangements for council tax reduction schemes, because it is a decision affecting the generality of the public in the council’s area, rather than one or more individual.. 

It is at all times the responsibility of each individual member to monitor whether they have any disclosed or as yet undisclosed interests in matters under consideration and to declare and register these where necessary.