Headlines: July 15th, 2005

The Standards Board for England has been granted official accreditation by The Law Society for its Annual Assembly of Standards Committees. The assembly, is being recognised as a ‘Continuing Professional Development’ course, which the board believes is a measure of its expertise in issues affecting local government.This year’s conference, which is due to take place in Birmingham in September on the theme “Ethical standards – in your hands”, will now be certified to count towards the credits solicitors require as part of their professional development. The conference was assessed on a range of criteria, such as content, relevance, organisation and suitability.

The Standards Board said this move was a recognition of the level of expertise it had developed concerning ethics in local government and the considerable learning opportunities offered by the conference to local government solicitors who – with standards committee members – are one of the key audiences for the event.

Chris Boothman, Head of Legal Services at the Board said the accreditation helped to strengthen the Board’s position as a platform of knowledge on key issues surrounding the Code of Conduct and ethical behaviour. It also helped to reinforce its relationship with monitoring officers by specifically tailoring its services to meet their requirements.

This year’s conference, being staged at the International Convention Centre on September 5th and 6th, will cover a number of issues including the key components of conducting local investigations and standards committee hearings. This conference will turn the spotlight on the work of standards committees, and others in local government who play a significant role alongside them, enabling them to take ownership of the ethical agenda. Delegates will use the two days to examine both good and bad practice, identify areas for improvement within their authorities, look beyond the scope of the standards committee’s statutory remit, focus on the relationship between members and their communities and discuss what further support and guidance is needed.

Speakers will include Sir Anthony Holland, who chairs the Standards Board for England, Sir Alistair Graham Chair, Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Local Government Minister, Phil Woolas, and a number of local authority monitoring officers.