Liverpool City Council is to adopt a series of measures aimed at shoring up its operations when dealing with developers in the wake of the Caller report.
The code of conduct, to be signed-off by the city council at tonight’s AGM, prohibits elected members and officers from accepting offers of sponsorship “or of anything that might be perceived as an incentive”.
In addition, members are warned not to disclose commercially or legally sensitive information that could give a party an unfair advantage.
The code of conduct “provides a clear framework for elected members and officers in relation to applicants, developers, contractors, agents…and the risks of perceived endorsement and too close an association in respect of the discharge and functions and responsibilities relating to planning, development, building control, licensing, and environment regulatory matters”, the council said.
Earlier this year, Max Caller, a strategic advisor to the Government, published a damning report into the running of Liverpool City Council’s regeneration, property management, highways, and planning departments.
The report found evidence of a “culture of rule avoidance” and concluded that the city council had “failed in numerous respects to comply with its [statutory] Best Value duty to taxpayers”.
Caller’s report, which was published against the backdrop of Operation Aloft, an ongoing police investigation into corruption within the authority, has prompted Liverpool City Council to address the issues raised and tighten up its processes.
In his report, Caller also highlighted failures relating to the city council’s record-keeping, and the new code of conduct stipulates members must keep “full and accurate written records of any meetings with developers, contractors, agents or investors”.
The full list of rules is as follows:
- The city council does not endorse any developers, contractors, agents or investors, or to specific developments, contracts or investments unless a clearly defined framework and agreement in place following completion of relevant due processes
- Offers of sponsorship, grants, or of anything that might be perceived as an incentive must not be accepted unless the city council’s due processes have been followed
- No emails or other correspondence are sent that appear to promote any matters discussed and that any such documents are clearly headed ‘subject to contract’
- Developers, contractors, agents and investors are referred on to the standard council process to make an expression of interest
- Developers, contractors, agents and investors are made aware of the council’s due diligence process that must be followed to progress any expressions of interest
- No information that is commercially sensitive, legally privileged, prejudicial, or that could provide an unfair advantage to anyone is disclosed
- All offers of gifts or hospitality are declared and registered in accordance with the requirements of the code of conduct for elected members
- Any interests are declared and registered in accordance with the requirements of the code of conduct for elected members – this includes personal or prejudicial interests
- Any concerns are reported to senior management or reported under the council’s whistleblowing policy.