Mid Ulster Council staff must declare hospitality and gifts worth over £20 - if council approves

If gift policy is approved by full council, all presents worth over �20 will have to be declared
If gift policy is approved by full council, all presents worth over �20 will have to be declared

A council committee last night [Thursday] passed a new policy that means council staff and councillors must declare all gifts and hospitality they receive worth over £20.

The decision, taken at the Policy and Resources Committee, had the support of the chamber and will now to go the full council for its approval.

Introducing the new policy, a council staff member said it was to be aligned with the code of conduct.

“We must have procedures in place around the acceptance of hospitality and gifts,” he said.

Introducing the £20 cap he added: “If there is a gift that is offered and it’s in excess of that then it has to go into the register of the chief executive of council.”

Under the fraud and corruption section of the council’s already existing code of conduct, it states that “employees must be aware that it is a serious criminal offence for them to receive or give any gift, loan, fee, reward or advantage for doing, or not doing, anything or showing favour, or disfavour, to any person in his/her official capacity”.

It also says if an allegation is made against an employee, it falls to them to prove that any such “rewards have not been corruptly obtained”.

Under the gifts and hospitality section of the same code, councillors and staff are advised only to accept offers of hospitality only if there is a “genuine need to impart information or represent the council in the community” and that they must be authorised and recorded.

Council staff are also prohibited from accepting “significant personal gifts from contractors, members of the public and outside suppliers, although the Council may wish to allow employees to keep items of token value such as pens, diaries etc.”