New legislation could see political group leaders have to take more responsibility for the conduct and behaviour of their members.

At the Standards committee on Wednesday, February 12, Powys County Council’s (PCC) Head of Legal and Democratic Services as well as monitoring officer, Clive Pinney, explained that there could be a potential impact on committee work, if the Welsh Government’s draft Local Government and Elections Bill, becomes law.

Mr Pinney said: “It’s proposed for the first time that there is a duty on group leaders to, promote and maintain high standards of conduct within their group.

“They would have to cooperate with the standards committee in promoting that.”

Mr Pinney went on to say that the committee would need to ensure that group leaders could access to advice and training to understand their new duties.

The committee would also need to monitor group and leadership behaviour.

Cllr Iain McIntosh (Conservative – Yscir) said: “When you have political leaders trying to maintain standards, what level of accountability are you going to have  if one of their members does something silly?

“Are the leaders held to account as well?”

Mr Pinney explained that it would depends how much work each leader has done to control and encourage good conduct, but could not be responsible for everything a councillor does.

Independent member, Claire Moore added “It would be helpful if we had an annual meeting with group leaders to facilitate that ongoing engagement, if this goes through, just to get some of those discussions going.

“We would be covering the training element which is the refresher on the Code of Conduct for everybody, that would be a starting point for where to go,” said Mr Pinney.

It was speculated at the meeting that the bill could come into force by April 2021.

In Powys here are five official political groups and two non aligned councillors.

Who are the political group leaders?

The Independent group – PCC leader Cllr Rosemarie Harris

Conservative group - Cllr Aled Davies

Liberal Democrat and Green group leader – Cllr James Gibson Watt

Labour – Cllr Mathew Dorrance

Action for Powys – No official group leader

Plaid Cymru - Cllr Elwyn Vaughan.