CALLS have been made for councils to be given more powers to sanction members in cases of serious misconduct.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has submitted its official response to the Local Government Ethical Standards Consultation, which is being conducted by the Committee on Standards in Public Life as part of a review of ethical standards at councils across the country

The review will consider all levels of local government in England, including town and parish councils, principal authorities, combined authorities and the Greater London Authority.

The council, in its response, said its Hearings Panel should be provided with powers to impose the sanctions directly rather than making recommendations.

It also said in cases of serious misconduct the range of sanctions available may be not be sufficient and additional sanctions may be needed, such as suspension with loss of allowances for pre-determined periods.

The response states: "Fortunately, the council has not received a complaint of a serious nature but if such a complaint was found to be substantiated there are no effective sanctions that the council could impose which reflects the severity of serious misconduct.

"Generally, the current arrangements are working in maintaining high standards.

"The level and of complaints is low in comparison to other councils."

The review was put together to examine the structures, processes and practices in local government in England.

This includes maintaining codes of conduct for local councillors, investigating alleged breaches fairly and with due process and enforcing codes and imposing sanctions for misconduct;

Declaring interests and managing conflicts of interest and whistleblowing also formed part of the review.

Following the consultation, the committee will assess whether the existing structures, processes and practices are conducive to high standards of conduct in local government.

They will make any recommendations for how they can be improved and note any evidence of intimidation of councillors.