What is the role of the Monitoring Officer?
The Monitoring Officer has the specific duty to ensure the county council, its officers, and its elected councillors, maintain the highest standards in all they do. The role is set out in Part 10 of Suffolk County Council's Constitution. The Monitoring Officers' legal basis is found in Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, as amended by Schedule 5 paragraph 24 of the Local Government Act 2000.
The main responsibilities can be summarised as:
- A duty to report to the Council and the Cabinet in any case where he is of the opinion that any proposal, decision or omission is or is likely to be illegal or to constitute maladministration.
- A range of functions relating to the conduct of councillors and officers (for example maintaining the Register of Members’ Interests).
- Specific functions under the Council's Constitution (for example monitoring the operation of Council meetings and committees).
Reporting on any proposal, decision, or omission that is or may be illegal
The Monitoring Officer has a duty to write a report if he considers any proposal, decision, or omission made by the Council, or on behalf of the Council, is illegal or would be illegal. Please note, it is not a duty to write a report every time an allegation of illegality is made, but only if it his personal opinion that it did, or will occur.
The duty is a personal duty, and the monitoring officer cannot delegate it to someone else unless he is ill or away, in which case a deputy monitoring officer can take over the role.
A deputy monitoring officer will also act when the issue involves the monitoring officer himself, or regards some advice he has previously given.
If a report is written it will be sent to the Cabinet and every councillor. The Cabinet must firstly ensure the proposal, decision, or omission is suspended, and must then report back within 21 days on the steps they are taking in response to the report.
Conduct of councillors and officers
The Monitoring Officer contributes to the promotion and maintenance of high standards of conduct by councillors and officers.
The Monitoring Officer is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the operation of the Council's Constitution to ensure that its aims and principles are given full effect.
In addition, the Monitoring Officer consults with senior councillors and officers over matters of interpretation of the Constitution's Rules and Procedures and is responsible for making a decision if necessary