Responsibilities of the Standards Committee

The Standards Committee has a number of responsibilities. On this page you can find out what these responsibilities are and what the committee does. Please note that the Standards Committee cannot overturn planning decisions.

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Standards of behaviour matter. They are particularly important where public money is being spent on public services or public functions. Everyone has a right to expect that holders of public office who make decisions which affect peoples lives should do so with impartiality, should be truthful about what they are doing and should use public money wisely.

Find out more on the standards in public life page.

Our Code of Conduct sets out the standards of behaviour we expect from all councillors in Cornwall.  There is a procedure in place for members of the public to make complaints about any councillor they consider has breached this code. Before making a complaint it is very important to read the guidance carefully just so that you understand exactly what the Standards Committee can deal with, and what types of issues are better dealt with through other complaints procedures

The Legal team at Cornwall Council provides training so that councillors are aware of their responsibilities.  Resources are limited so we are looking to set up a number of area-based training sessions across Cornwall – we will also look to make this available online.

The Local Government Ombudsman deals with complaints about councils that have not been satisfactorily resolved through local processes.   There are rules about this as you cannot go straight to the Ombudsman without first going through the Council’s own complaints procedure.

Also you can’t complain about something that affects lots of other people in the same way and you need to submit a complaint to the Ombudsman within a certain timeframe.

The Standards Committee takes an overview of complaints about Cornwall Council that have been to the Ombudsman, and produces reports on the findings to ensure that the Council learns from its mistakes.

Inevitably, not all complaints will be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant.  In a small minority of cases a member of the public will continue to contact the Council about something which has already been thoroughly investigated - sometimes years before.  The Council has a procedure to deal with such cases so that there is a single point of contact for dealing with the complainant. 

Subject to consideration and agreement by the Standards Committee, the Council will write to the complainant to explain this and say that their details will be placed on a register of vexatious complainants.    This is so that the Council can ensure that there is a consistent approach to the complainant and that if new issues are raised, they are dealt with.  It also ensures that time is not wasted in looking at an issue that has already been thoroughly investigated.

As the Standards Committee has an overview of complaints, members take the opportunity to produce reports to the Council on issues where all services can learn from mistakes made in the past.

The Standards Committee only deals with complaints about councillors breaching the Code of Conduct.

To make a complaint about a council service or a council officer, you can use the normal complaints procedure