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Code of Conduct for Local Board Members

Introduction

The Estate Management Board (EMB) is the elected body representing all residents living in homes on the estate. It is important for Board members to be well equipped to carry out its responsibilities. The Board needs members whose collective skills, experience and personal qualities reflect the need to be an efficient organisation.

All Board Members must subscribe to and uphold the EMB's Mission Statement, Code of Conduct and Equal Opportunities Policy.

Board Members are responsible to the EMB.

Objectives:

  • To ensure that the estate(s) are managed efficiently, effectively and in line with the requirements of the law, EeH, regulatory bodies and best practice.
  • To act only in the interests of The EMB and not on behalf of any other constituency or interest group.
  • To uphold the reputation of The EMB, EeH and the values, objectives and principles for which it stands.

Key responsibilities:

  • To participate fully in the planning of the EMB’s work, setting objectives and monitoring performance accordingly.
  • To participate in developing policies to guide the EMB’s work and to uphold these policies accordingly.
  • To ensure that decisions taken by the Board are in the EMB’s and EeH’s best interests and that its legal and moral responsibilities are met.
  • To receive and consider reports prepared by EeH, staff, agents and advisers and question these to ensure that decisions are well founded.
  • To attend Board meetings regularly, participate fully in discussions and share responsibility within the decision making process.
  • To attend appropriate training events or represent the EMB as required.
  • To abide by decisions of the Board and its Committees and uphold the doctrine of collective responsibility.
  • To uphold the intragroup agreement between the EMB, and the EeH Board and others within the EeH group.
  • To treat information labelled as confidential or provided on a confidential basis in confidence.
  • Not to do anything to undermine the work or reputation of the EMB, EeH or the constituent housing organisations within the EeH group.
  • To ensure commitment to the EMB’s Equal Opportunities Policy.
  • To uphold the EMB’s Code of Conduct.
  • To declare relevant interests.
  • To be as open in communication as possible.

Some of the EMB Members are elected by constituencies. However, the primary duty of all Board Members is to act in the interests of the EMB and EeH. This reflects their legal duties under relevant law. EMB Members are not delegates of any outside body and each Board Member owes a direct duty to the EMB and EeH.

Conflicts and disclosure of interests

The EMB will not grant a benefit or make a payment to:

  • any Board Member except for reasonable expenses in connection with his or her Board duties;
  • any seconded or other staff member except under his or her contract of employment;
  • close relatives of the above;
  • anyone who has been in one of the above categories within the last 12 months;
  • any business trading for profit which any of the above own or are involved in managing.

Certain exemptions apply:-

  • a Board Member or staff member who was a tenant prior to joining the EMB may be given the tenancy of a further property.

Under certain circumstances, and providing this is in accordance with all relevant EMB policies and procedures, the EMB may make representation to EeH Board to:-

  • house a Board Member's relative with special needs needing supported housing;
  • house a Board Member or relative nominated by a local authority;

Any decision to make representation to EeH Board to use the above exemptions will require a resolution of the Board. All such resolutions will be recorded in the Register of Declarations of Interest, which will be available for public inspection. In the event of any doubt on the applicability of an exemption, the Secretary will seek the guidance of EeH in writing and report the results to the Board.

The EMB will distribute annually to Board Members a declaration concerning conflicts of interest and all Board members are required to complete and return this.

A Board Member should declare an interest if an item of business being discussed at a Board meeting specifically concerns him or her or an organisation with which he or she is involved, whether profit making, public sector or voluntary sector (excluding EeH) but including political and campaigning groups.

In the event of the Board discussing a matter that specifically affects a Board Member or an organisation with which he or she is involved (excluding EeH), or has direct financial implications for the Board Member or his or her organisation, the Board Member must declare an interest and withdraw from that part of the meeting. However, at the discretion of the Chair, that Board Member may be allowed to remain present during a preliminary phase of the discussions, in order that the Board may hear any relevant information that the Member may be able to add to the papers already tabled, and to enable the member to see the papers before the Board. Exceptions to this are laid out in the EMB Constitution.

The EMB will maintain a Register of Declarations of Interest for public inspection that records disclosures of all relevant interests by Board Members, including:

  • the annual declaration that each Board member must sign
  • any provision or receipt of reasonable hospitality
  • any use of the EMB or EeH contractors or agents by Board members
  • all decisions to use the exemptions listed in paragraph 2.3 above.

All those covered by this Code will follow the above requirements and ensure that they:

  • never use their position with the EMB for their own gain or that of their family or associates;
  • disclose any direct or indirect interest which could influence their judgement or give the impression that any Board

Member is acting for personal motives or any other motive than the best interest of the EMB;

  • withdraw from the meeting if any matter arises where a conflict of interest occurs.
  • resign as a member of the Board if any such breach occurs in relation to their own position;
  • never allow themselves to be mandated by any outside body or persons to support, resist or influence a decision of the Board or the exercise of delegated authority by any Board Member or staff;
  • advise the Board if they consider another member to have such an interest;
  • never accept gifts or allow extravagance in any entertainment received or given in connection with the EMB's business and always follow the EMB's policies on recording hospitality;
  • do not seek any special advantage in the use of consultants, contractors, advisors etc. used by the EMB or EeH; where such services are used, they will be declared to the Secretary before the transaction takes place.

The provisions of this code regarding conflicts of interest apply equally to Board Members who are EeH tenants or leaseholders on estate(s). In the event of the Board discussing a Board Member’s personal circumstances or individual dwelling, or the circumstances of a neighbour or relative, the Board Member concerned must declare an interest and withdraw from that part of the meeting. This clause is not meant to exclude a Tenant Board Member from discussions of any items merely because the block or area in which the Tenant Board Member lives is included in the item being discussed.

The Board expects any Board Member who is a tenant or leaseholder of EeH to comply with his/her tenancy terms and to ensure that his/her rent and/or service charges are paid when due. The Board will not accept as a new Member any tenant or leaseholder of EeH who has unpaid arrears.

The Board expects that any existing Board Member against whom a notice of intention to seek possession or anti-social behaviour order is served, will resign. The Housing Manager will be asked to inform the Board if any Board Member, who is a tenant, is served with such notice/order. If a Board does not resign voluntarily, the Board may seek to invoke the provisions the Articles of Association. This provides that a Board Member will cease to be a Board Member if a majority of Board Members consider him/her to be in serious breach of his/her obligations as a Tenant. Before invoking this, the Board will provide the Board Member concerned with the opportunity to present his or her case to the Board, or a sub-group of the Board.

Management Practice

The EMB has a Constitution that sets down its objectives and targets, and policies and procedures covering its main areas of activity. These provide a framework for fair decisions in all areas. This approach to management practice in itself creates a framework for accountability which minimises the chance that the Board could be legitimately criticised.

It is therefore the responsibility of Board members to ensure that the Constitution is implemented through the staff and that policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and their operation reported upon.

The Board will operate with maximum openness. Items will be dealt with in open session wherever possible with confidential items clearly marked and dealt with in closed session. Information on the work and decisions of the Board will be disseminated to staff and publicised to tenants and the EMB' s other partners. Within this, however, confidentiality of tenants, staff and agencies with which the EMB works will be respected.

Where a Board Member breaches this Code of Conduct, he or she may be removed by a resolution signed by a majority of the other Board Members.