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The Chairman welcomed everyone to the remote meeting, held under new regulations which came into effect on 4 April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He took Members through some general housekeeping issues together with the etiquette for the meeting and then asked Officers present to introduce themselves.
This was followed by a roll call of Committee Members present and any Councillor in attendance
Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Mrs M E Thompson.
In accordance with notice duly given Councillor J V Keyes was attending as a substitute for Councillor M E Thompson.
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).
There were none.
To consider the report of the Monitoring Officer, (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Monitoring Officer advising of two complaint reports (attached as Appendix 1 and 2 respectively) following receipt of complaints against Councillor C Morris.
In accordance with the Procedure for Complaints Determination the Chairman called on the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer to present the reports. The Monitoring Officer clarified that there were two complaint reports and the Committee agreed they be considered separately. It was noted that Councillor C Morris would have an opportunity to ask questions of the Monitoring Officer after each report summary, followed by questions from Members of the Committee to the Monitoring Officer.
Prior to the presentation the Monitoring Officer, in response to a query as to why the letter from the member of the public relating to Appendix 2 was not included in the meeting papers, said that this formed part of the report from Mr Jennings and that the detail was covered in paragraph 1.2 of Appendix 2 at page 42 of the pack. He advised there was no requirement to append the letter but that he would locate the correspondence and read it to the Committee at the appropriate point on the agenda.
He then drew Member’s attention to his report that set out the three key decisions for consideration by the Committee based on the evidence before them and the sanctions it could apply should it be determined that a breach of the Code of Conduct had occurred in either of the complaints.
4(a) APPENDIX 1- Complaint against Councillor C Morris
The Committee considered the report of the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer, advising of an investigation (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) that had been undertaken following receipt of a Code of Conduct complaint against Councillor C Morris.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Monitoring Officer’s covering report that set out the three key decisions for consideration by the Committee based on the evidence before them and the sanctions it could apply should it be determined that a breach of the Code of Conduct had occurred.
In accordance with Procedure the Chairman asked the Monitoring Officer to summarise the conclusion of the first report at appendix 1. The Monitoring Officer provided the background to the report which was a result of a complaint by Councillor R P F Dewick. He said the complaint was twofold, the first part related to behaviour at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee where Councillor Morris presented as Mr Morris, a member of the public, not as a Councillor. He advised that he had dismissed this as Councillor Morris’ attendance was not as a Councillor therefore it fell outside the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct. However, he felt the second part of the complaint relating to two Council meetings on the 3 October and 21 November 2019 respectively did engage the Code of Conduct as it related to behaviour when conducting Council business.
It was noted that the exchanges at the aforementioned Council ... view the full minutes text for item 1182.