Venue: Meeting Room 1, Council Offices, Priory Road
Contact: Democratic Services 01775 764626
Declarations of Interest
(Where a Councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest the Councillor must declare the interest to the meeting and leave the room without participating in any discussion or making a statement on the item, except where a Councillor is permitted to remain as a result of a dispensation.)
There were no declarations of interest.
To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 12 April 2016 (copy enclosed).
The Panel considered the minutes of the meeting held on 12 April 2016.
That the minutes be agreed as a correct record and be signed by the Chairman.
To give consideration to the review of Standards Arrangements and Code of Conduct (report of the Executive Director – Governance is enclosed).
The Panel considered the report of the Executive Director - Strategy and Governance and Monitoring Officer inviting the Panel to review the Standards Arrangements and Code of Conduct to ensure that they are proportionate and fit for purpose.
Members noted that The Localism Act 2011 contained the current legislative arrangements for elected Member standards of conduct within local authorities. There wasa dutyonCouncilsunderSections27and28oftheLocalismAct 2011to promoteandmaintainhighstandardsofconductbyelectedandco-optedmemberswhenactinginthatcapacity; toadopta CodeofConductwhichwasconsistentwiththeprinciplesofselflessness,integrity,objectivity,accountability,openness,honestyandleadership; tohavearrangementsinplacefortheinvestigationofallegationsandforthemakingof decisions onallegations.How this wasachieved in each Council now involveda much greater degreeoflocalchoicethanwas available under the previous regime.TheCouncil’scurrentarrangements were adopted by Council in 2012. The arrangements and Code of Conduct had been revised to ensure that they were fit for purpose.
In discussing the proposed new arrangements and revised Code of Conduct members noted that the monitoring officer had sought to streamline and improve the arrangements by:
· reducing the number of steps involved in dealing with a complaint
· removing the absolute requirement to seek local settlement at each stage
· highlighting example of complaints that will not be considered under the Arrangements.
· providing greater discretion as to whether a complaint should progress
· providing formal Hearings procedures
The Independent Person, Mr Tony Wicks, had also considered the proposed arrangements and made the following comments:
· That it would be useful (under Appendix C) to require the provision of contact details of witnesses
· Proposing an additional sanction of removal of decision-making power in respect of ward member budgets.
The Executive Manager for Governance asked members to consider whether it would be reasonable to withhold ward member budgets without making alternative arrangements so as to ensure that local groups and organisations were not disadvantaged.
That the revised set of Local Arrangements for dealing with Standards Complaints and the amended Code of Conduct be recommended to Council for adoption, subject to the following amendments:
i. deletion of the words ‘if possible’ from the Complaints Form (Appendix C), paragraph 4, bullet point 3; and
ii. the addition of a sanction to the Arrangements (Appendix B) and Hearing Procedures (Appendix D) to the effect that a member may be prevented from making decisions on their ward member budget, if found in breach of the Code of Conduct in a matter related to their ward budget, and that administration of the budget be instead dealt with by another member for that ward or, if there is no other member, an officer.
To note the Standards Annual Report 2016-17 (report of the Executive Manager – Governance is enclosed).
The Panel considered a report by the Executive Manager – Governance setting out information relating to work undertaken since the previous annual report made to the Standards Panel April 2016 along with the Independent Person’s comments.
Councillors noted that 5 complaints had been received during the period April 2016- March 2017. 3 complaints were not relevant to the Code of Conduct, 1 complaint had been withdrawn and the remaining complaint was in the process of being considered.
Members asked that further detail be include din future reports, such as the outcome of Police referrals.
That the Standards Annual Report 2016-2017 be noted and that the content of the report be reviewed for future years.
Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances.
There were no urgent items.