Part 5 - Appendix 2 - Protocol on the relationship between Officers and Members of Gloucestershire County Council
- The role of elected Members - The role of County Councillors as Members of full Council and Council bodies
- The standing of County Councillors as individual Members of the Council
- Other roles of County Councillors
- The role of Officers - The role of Officers in the course of their employment
- Contact between Officers and Members other than in the course of Officers’ employment
- Sources of difficulty
- Political neutrality - Supporting the work of the Council
- Lobbying Members
- Giving advice and providing information
- Dealing with the Press
- Member pressure on Officers
- Blurring of Officers and Members public and private roles
- The role of Group Leaders and senior Officers
Member pressure on Officers
- Except in relation to political assistants, Members should respect Officers’ political neutrality. They should not, therefore, ask an Officer (except political assistants) to act in any way that would cause an Officer to confer an improper advantage on their group or disadvantage another group or Member.
- Members should also respect Officers’ professional judgment. This does not mean Members are obliged to accept Officers’ advice. Nor does it preclude Members’ testing Officers’ advice, robustly if necessary. If, however, an Officer does not share an opinion that is urged upon them by a Member, the Member should not insist or place an Officer under undue pressure to depart from their firmly held professional opinion.
- Although Members are entitled to depart from Officers’ advice, they should avoid criticising Officers or their advice in public. Complaints about the conduct of an Officer should be made privately to the Officer’s Director of Service or another appropriate senior Officer.
- Members should bear in mind that Officers are often obliged to balance very many tasks. They should, therefore, exercise reasonable restraint in making demands of Officers for advice or information. Thus, in responding to any request in accordance with paragraph 12 of this protocol, Officers should normally be allowed a reasonable period of time to provide advice and information. Members should also avoid, so far as is possible, making repeated or excessive requests for advice or information. If an Officer indicates that they can provide no further assistance in respect of a particular matter, that advice should normally be accepted or referred to the Officer’s line manager. Particular care must be exercised when corresponding with Officers by email; excessive use of this tool can be extremely costly of both Members’ and Officers’ time.
- In seeking information or advice, Members should take care to avoid placing undue pressure on junior or inexperienced Officers. Instead, the matter should be taken up with the Officer’s Director of Service or another senior manager.
Page updated: 12/10/2020