Chairman's Column - Acting As A Public Figure
Published on Monday, 18th October 2021
This week, the Chairman reflects on acting as a public figure.
The dreadful news last week of the unnecessary and untimely death of Sir David Amiss MP caused a public outcry and press commentators quickly homed in on how we interact with each other these days.
Sadly kindness, respect and courtesy seem to have slipped by some of us to be replaced with impatience, discourtesy and rudeness.
In 1994 the Prime Minister of the time John Major, established a Committee on Standards in Public Life; It was an independent public body to advise government on ethical standards across public life in the UK.
The Chairman, Lord Nolan published his report in May 1995, by setting out “The Seven Principles of Public Life” that everyone in public office should uphold. They are known as the ‘NOLAN Principles’ and the public entrust public figures to make decisions fairly, openly, and transparently without promoting themselves personally.
These principles guide how a public figure should behave by displaying - Selflessness acting solely in terms of the public interest.
Integrity: by avoiding placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that may inappropriately try to influence them in their work, nor make decisions to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friend.
Objectivity: by taking decisions impartially and fairly using the best evidence without discrimination or bias.
Accountability: to the public for their decisions and actions and submit themselves to scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Openness: 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 should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour actively promoting and robustly supporting the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
Our Code of Conduct applies as soon as a declaration of acceptance of the office is made by a Councillor, and it continues to apply until they cease to be a Councillor.
It is important that as public figures we can be held accountable and adopt all the behaviours and responsibilities associated with the role.
The conduct of an individual councillor can affect the reputation of all Councillors. Importantly, we should be able to undertake our role as a councillor without being intimidated, abused, bullied, or threatened by anyone.
This Code has been designed to protect our democratic role, encourage good conduct and safeguard the public’s trust in local government.
I commend these principles and although none of us are perfect - we should always endeavour to uphold them as a Councillor and hope others do so too.
Councillor Mark S. Heard
Chairman of Maldon District Council
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