Of the councillors I know, most think that the Standards Board for England is a giant waste of money, and is generally only used for political purposes by one party against another in local politics.
The official idea behind the Standards Board is to make local authority politician face the same sort of ethical scrutiny as national politicians, but it has often led to decisions made against politicians from all parties that have been quite spurious.
The question is, is there any basis for saying that it is a waste of money? Well, I've just done some number crunching on two tables published by the Government that list how many cases the Board has dealt with over a number of years and how much the average cost of a case was. The results suggest that it is indeed a great big waste of money.
Between 2004 and 2008, the Standards Board for England investigated a total of 2937 complaints. Of those 2344 either had "no evidence of breach" or "no further action". That means that 80% of the complaints that were made were, for want of a better word, spurious and/or baseless. The total cost of investigating these complaints was £21,024,225 of which £16,274,604 was spent on the spurious or baseless complaints.
Is there, or can there be, a justification for the existence of quango that spends 80% of its time investigating things with no outcome at a cost of £16.2 million? I'd say there isn't.
Source 1: Average cost of case.
Source 2: Total numbers of cases and results.