Councillor conduct, interests, allowances and complaints

Make a complaint about a councillor

If you believe a councillor has breached the members code of conduct and you wish to make a complaint, please download and complete the councillor complaint form and return to us at the following address:

Monitoring Officer 
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
Guildhall
High Street
Kingston upon Thames
KT1 1EU

Please ensure you read all of the following guidance before completing the form. 

Councillor complaint guidance

What constitutes a complaint

In order to be investigated a complaint must either:

  • reveal a continuing pattern of behaviour that is significantly and unreasonably disrupting the business of the Council and there is no other avenue left to deal with it other than by way of an investigation

Or, it must comply with all the following criteria:

  • complaint raises matters which would be a breach of the code of conduct
  • complaint is sufficiently serious to warrant investigation
  • complaint is not 'tit for tat'
  • complaint appears not to be politically motivated
  • about somebody who is still a councillor or co-opted member of the Council
  • has been received within three months of the alleged failure to comply with the code, unless there are exceptional circumstances for the delay and the delay does not mean that it would be difficult for a fair investigation to be carried out
  • same or similar complaint has not already been investigated
  • not an anonymous complaint, unless it includes sufficient documentary evidence to show a significant breach of the code
  • councillor complained about has not already apologised and/or admitted making an error
  • if the complaint reveals a criminal offence and a complaint has been made to the police, that the police investigation and any proceedings have concluded or the police have confirmed that no proceedings will be issued

It is important that you provide all the information you wish to have taken into account. For example:

  • you should be specific, wherever possible, about exactly what you are alleging the member said or did -for instance, instead of writing that the member insulted you, you should state what it was they said
  • you should provide the dates of the alleged incidents wherever possible - if you cannot provide exact dates it is important to give a general timeframe
  • you should confirm whether there are any witnesses to the alleged conduct and provide their names and contact details if possible
  • you should provide any relevant background information

Confidentiality

We will normally pass a copy of your complaint to the councillor complained about so that he or she can comment. It is also in the interests of fairness and natural justice that a councillor complained about should have the right to know who has made the complaint and what it is.

In very exceptional circumstances, we may agree to withhold your name and address. We would only do this if we have a good reason to believe that to give your name or address to the councillor would be contrary to the public interest or would prejudice any investigation.

If your request for confidentiality is not granted, we will usually allow you the option of withdrawing your complaint.

However, it is important to understand that in certain exceptional circumstances where the matter complained about is very serious, we can proceed with an investigation or other action and disclose your name even if you have expressly asked us not to.

What happens when you submit a complaint

We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days and will keep you informed of progress throughout the process.

On the basis of the information received we will decide whether your complaint merits formal investigation. If we consider that it would be inappropriate for officers to take this decision (for example, if we have previously advised the member concerned on the matter, or the complaint is particularly sensitive or serious) we may refer the decision to investigate to our Audit, Governance and Standards Committee.

We will consult with the independent person (an individual otherwise unconnected with the Council who is appointed specifically to provide advice and guidance in such matters) and will normally decide whether to investigate within 28 days. We will inform you of the decision and the reasons for it.

In some cases we may decide to seek to resolve the matter informally without an investigation. This might, for instance, involve the councillor concerned agreeing to offer an apology or to amend their entry in the register of interests.

Where a complaint relates to the alleged failure of a councillor or co-opted member to comply with requirements to register or declare pecuniary interests (but not other types of interests) we will refer the matter to the police for investigation.

How the investigation is conducted

If we decide that your complaint merits investigation we will either conduct the investigation ourselves or appoint an appropriate person to do so on our behalf. Whoever carries out the investigation may need to meet or speak with you to better understand the detail of your complaint. They will inform the councillor concerned of the complaint against them and ask them to provide their explanation of events. At the end of the investigation both yourself and the councillor concerned will be sent copies of the draft report in order to have the opportunity to correct any factual inaccuracies.

If, at the conclusion of this process, we find no evidence of a failure to comply with the code then the matter will not be taken further. If appropriate we may refer to the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee the decision whether to proceed to the next stage

However, if there appears to be evidence of a failure to comply with the code we, in consultation with the independent person, may seek an informal resolution which is to the satisfaction of you as the complainant (for example, an apology from the member concerned). If this does not prove to be possible or appropriate, the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee, or a sub-committee which it has appointed for the purpose, will hold a hearing into the matter in order to decide whether or not the member failed to comply with the code and what action, if any, should be taken.

If the committee decides that a councillor has failed to comply with the code it may:

  • censure or reprimand the Councillor
  • report its findings to a meeting of the Council for information
  • recommend to the councillor’s group leader that he/she be removed from any or all of the committees or sub-committees of the Council
  • recommend to the Leader of the Council or group leader that the councillor be removed from particular portfolio responsibilities
  • request that the councillor undertakes such training as may be specified
  • recommend to the Council that the councillor be removed from all outside appointments to which they have been appointed or nominated by the authority
  • recommend to the Council the withdrawal of facilities provided by the authority, such as a computer, website and/or email and internet access
  • recommend to the Council that that the councillor be excluded from the authority’s offices or other premises, with the exception of meeting rooms as necessary for attending Council, committee and sub-committee meetings

As soon as possible after the meeting we will write to you to confirm the decisions taken.

Appeals

There is no right of appeal against decisions we, the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee or the Council make on this matter.