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Boris' resignation shows how vital standards are for place leadership

Boris Johnson

For many members of the Institute of Place Management, especially those in the UK, the last 72 hours have been hard to believe. Resignation after resignation from Boris Johnson's cabinet and a very public revolt from Conservative MPs culminating in the PM's resignation.

There are some important lessons for all place managers and leaders, relating to professional standards.


By Prof. Cathy Parker | 7th July 2022


Not only did Boris Johnson and others around him lose sight of standards in public life, the Prime Minister went as far as removing them from national political life by re-writing the Ministerial Code without reference to the Nolan Principles.

Established 26 years ago, following a number of political scandals including ‘cash for questions’, the Nolan principles were adopted by John Major as a code of conduct for public life. The Principles are:


Selflessness: their decisions should be taken solely in the public interest, not for financial or other material gain for themselves, family, or friends.

Integrity: they should not place themselves under any financial or other obligations to outside individuals or organisations that might influence the performance of their duties.

Objectivity: their decisions (making appointments, awarding contracts and other public business) should be based on merit.

Accountability: they are accountable for their actions to the public and must subject themselves to the scrutiny appropriate to their office.

Openness: they should be as open as possible about their actions, should justify their decisions, and restrict information only when it is clearly in the public interest.

Honesty: they have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve conflicts of interest to protect the public interest.

Leadership: they should promote and support these principles through leadership and example.


It is not just Ministers and MPs that should uphold these standards.

When they were developed, the intention was to apply them to everyone in public life, including local government leaders and others that have a formal role in leading places and publicly funded organisations.

The Institute works with many inspirational and principled people, many within local authorities, who are part of the IPM’s membership and who also work with us through the High Streets Task Force and its programme to build and support place management and leadership skills across England.

However, there are also challenges in local place governance, and the current political saga is a reminder of why a code of conduct for the profession is so important.

In England, when the Standards Board, (or Standards for England as it became), was disbanded and local authorities took individual responsibility for standards for, and complaints and sanctions against individuals. However, without the power to disqualify or suspend, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) said “while we welcome the code we recognise that without appropriate sanctions the code is worthless and the current sanctions are almost non-existent"* It is worth pointing out, at this juncture, that whilst Council CEOs may find fault with the current standards for their councillors, there is no national code of conduct for local authority staff in England.

Although most IPM members are not politicians (although some are), and may not be funded (in part or entirely) by public funds, by its very nature place management and leadership is a very public role - that is why, when the Institute was formed in 2004 we used the Nolan Principles as a basis for our Code of Conduct.

View the IPM Code of Conduct

All IPM members and partners, at all levels, agree to uphold their Code of Conduct, and we have a system of dealing with complaints - which can ultimately result in expulsion. We exist, as a professional body, to ensure the public can trust the values and judgements of our members - and this is especially important in place management and leadership, because the decision and actions of our members impact on the whole of society.

Anyone who has a role as a place manager or leader should be governed by the same code of conduct - otherwise we have a situation where some people in places are working to high standards, only to be faced with (or undermined by) others working with far less professionalism. Places and their people deserve better.

** Reported in Municipal Journal, “’Toothless’ code of conduct slammed”, 20 Aug


You can find out more about IPM Membership and apply online.

Cathy Parker

About the author

Cathy Parker

Cathy is Professor of Retail and Marketing Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University, Co-Chair of IPM and Research Lead for the Government's High Streets Task Force.

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