Agenda and draft minutes

Joint Standards Committee - Thursday 22nd February 2018 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

846.

Chairman's notices

Minutes:

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

847.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were none.

848.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 19 October 2017 (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 19 October 2017 be approved and confirmed.

849.

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 Mrs B E Acevedo declared that in relation to Agenda Item 7 – Investigation into Alleged Contravention of the Members’ Code of Conduct – she was one of the complainants and would not vote on this item.  Furthermore, Councillor Acevedo advised that she would move to the public seating area of the Council Chamber for the duration of this agenda item.

 

On the same item, Councillor J Anderson declared in the interests of openness and transparency that he was Chairman of Southminster Parish Council and that the Clerk to Althorne Parish Council was also the Clerk to Southminster Parish Council.

 

Councillors S J Nunn, M R Pearlman, Mrs M E Thompson, I E Dobson and Rev. A E J Shrimpton all declared that they knew Councillor Mrs B E Acevedo, one of the complainants.

850.

Constitutional and Operating Arrangements for the Joint Standards Committee pdf icon PDF 107 KB

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

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer seeking a further revision to the adopted summary of the Councillor Conduct Complaints Procedure as part of its constitutional documentation. 

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised the Committee that the amendments shown in red on the report were the amendments to the process that had already been agreed by the Council.  These were to make clear the involvement of the Deputy Leader when the Councillor the subject of a complaint was the Leader of the Council.

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

That the further revision to the summary of the Councillor Conduct Complaints Process be adopted as part of the Council’s constitutional documentation in place of the Complaints Process flowcharts.

851.

Update on Complaints Informally Resolved Under Stage 1 of the Complaints Procedure pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer, the purpose of which was to update the Committee on complaints that had been informally resolved since the last meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the information on the complaint dealt with under stage 1 of the complaints procedure was noted.

 

 

852.

Investigation into Alleged Contravention of the Members' Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer, the purpose of which was to consider a complaint against Councillor Paul Burgess, Chairman of Althorne Parish Council, under the Code of Conduct for Members.  It was noted that consideration of this matter would be in the form of a hearing under stage 2 of the Conduct Complaints Process, the Monitoring Officer having carried out an investigation.  Present at the meeting for this purpose were Councillor Paul Burgess and the Mrs J Jeffrey, Parish Clerk for Althorne.

 

Councillor Mrs B E Acevedo moved to the public seating area of the Council Chamber at this point in the meeting.

 

In response to a question, the Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that this item was not being considered as a private and confidential matter as although it contained personal data and the identity of an individual, it did not satisfy the public interest test, as the need for privacy did not outweigh the need for the public to know about this matter.  Furthermore, the Government considered that as far as possible allegations regarding a Councillor’s conduct should be heard in public session.

 

The Chairman invited those present to introduce themselves, following which the Deputy Monitoring Officer then presented his report to the Committee highlighting that both complainants had made both allegations referred to in the Appendix to the report.  In summary, these were that District Councillors Brian Beale MBE and Beverley Acevedo made separate complaints on 8 December 2017 about Parish Councillor Paul Burgess, the Chairman of Althorne Parish Council.  The complaints are in essence the same:

 

1.                   That Councillor Burgess spoke at the South Eastern Area Planning Committee of Maldon District Council on the 6 November and 4 December 2017 by holding himself out as having authority to represent Althorne Parish Council when he did not have that authority;

2.                  That Councillor Burgess spoke on both occasions making presentations that went beyond the reasons given by the Parish Council.

The Deputy Monitoring Officer was satisfied (paragraph 28 of the Appendix to the report) that Councillor Burgess did not have authority from Althorne Parish Council and wrongly held himself out as having that authority at both of the meetings of the South Eastern Area Planning Committee on 6 November 2017 and 4 December 2017.  The Deputy Monitoring Officer was of the view (paragraph 31 of the Appendix to the report) that Councillor Burgess went beyond the single reason of objection by Althorne Parish Council, but that he believed for good reason that sustainability was part of the reasons for objection.

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised the Committee that the question to answer was whether there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct by Councillor Burgess, rather than just whether the allegations had been established.

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer clarified that the Parish Clerk had made it clear that she was not acting on the advice of Councillor Beale with regard to Cllr Burgess requiring authority from the Parish Council before  ...  view the full minutes text for item 852.