Agenda and minutes

REVISED TIME, Joint Standards Committee - Thursday 19th October 2017 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber. Maldon District Council Offices, Princes Road, Maldon

Contact: Committee Services 

Note: Please note start time 

Items
No. Item

512.

Chairman's notices

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the list of notices published on the back of the agenda.

513.

Apologies for Absence and Substitution Notice

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor I E Dobson and M R Pearlman.  In accordance with notice duly given Councillor R P F Dewick was substituting for Councillor Pearlman and Councillor S J Savage was substituting for Councillor Dobson.

514.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 1 June 2017 (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 1 June 2017 be approved and confirmed.

 

Councillor S J Savage stated that as he had not been present for the entirety of the last meeting he was not in a position to be able to agree to the confirmation of the Minutes and had therefore abstained from voting.

515.

Disclosure of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, other Pecuniary Interests or Non-Pecuniary Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraphs 6-8 inclusive of the Code of Conduct for Members.

 

(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).

 

Minutes:

Councillor S J Nunn disclosed a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 5 – Code of Conduct – Request for Dispensation, as he was acquainted with the Member the subject of the request.  Councillors S J Savage and Mrs M E Thompson made similar disclosures.

516.

Councillor Code of Conduct - Request for Dispensation pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To consider the report of the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer on a request from Councillor M S Heard for a dispensation to enable him to participate in meetings Overview and Scrutiny Committee acting as the Crime and Disorder Committee where he had a particular Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.  A letter from Councillor Heard was appended to the report.

 

The Localism Act 2011 provided for the Council to grant dispensations in limited circumstances as set out in section 33(2) of the Act and which were examined in the report having regard to the nature of the request received.  The report concluded that it was not appropriate to grant a dispensation, particularly given the wide nature of the request and the precedent that could be set, and therefore the request should be declined.

 

In the discussion that followed, Members acknowledged the danger in making an exception in this case and the implications for participation, in terms of perception of influence, where a Councillor had a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.  The view was however expressed that there was a fine line between the expertise a Councillor brought to debate on a particular matter and actual influence through participation.

 

RESOLVED that the Committee declines the request for a dispensation to be granted.

517.

Constitutional and Operating Arrangements for the Joint Standards Committee pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To consider the report of the Monitoring Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer seeking adoption of a written summary of the Conduct Complaints Process to replace the existing flowcharts.  The propose summary was attached as Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

It had been agreed at the last meeting that flowcharts had become complicated and were difficult to follow.  It was common practice now for authorities to summarise the Process in published constitutional documentation.  The proposed summary had been updated to include the further revisions agreed at the last meeting of the Council.

 

Arising from questions raised, it was agreed that the summary be revised to ensure that the point 1 of Stage 1 made it clear that potential complaints might only come from Officers.  It was also agreed that an addition be made to point 4 of Stage 1 as to the ability for a Councillor the subject of a complaint to seek the views of the Independent Person at any stage of the process.

 

The Committee noted that arrangements were in hand to deliver Code of Conduct training in accordance with a recent decision of the Council.

 

Reference was made to an email Members and Officers had received that day from Councillor Miss M R Lewis as to certain further deficiencies she felt existed in the Conduct Complaints Process.  Officer advised that this should be looked at by the Monitoring Officer and a response prepared in liaison with the Chairman of the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED that the Council approves the Conduct Complaints Process Summary, at APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes, and adopts it as part of the Council’s constitutional documentation in place of the Complaints Process Flowcharts.

518.

Summary of Councillor Conduct Complaints and Queries 2012 to 2017 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To receive, for information, a summary document prepared by the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee received, for information, a summary document prepared by the Monitoring Officer showing the number and nature of conduct complaints received for the above period and how the complaints had been dealt with,

 

The Committee noted the position and welcomed this form of reporting for the future.

 

519.

Exclusion of the Public and Press

To resolve that under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act, and that this satisfies the public interest test.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act, and that this satisfies the public interest test.

520.

Allegation of Misconduct

To consider the report of the Monitoring Officer, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer providing an update on matters relating to an allegation of misconduct against a District Councillor, further to that given to the last meeting.

 

The report outlined subsequent events where the Councillor in seeking to resolve the issue had offered an unreserved apology to the complainants, which had been accepted. In the circumstances, and in consultation with the Independent Person, the Monitoring Officer recommended that no further action be taken on this matter.

 

RESOLVED that in the light of the report now received, no further action be taken in this matter.

Appendix 1 pdf icon PDF 74 KB