Venue: Members to access the meeting via Teams. Members of the press & public may listen to the live stream on the Council's website:https://democracy.maldon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=2232
Contact: Committee Services
Election of Chairman
To elect a Chairman of the Committee for the remainder of the municipal year.
In the absence of a Chairman and Vice-Chairman, the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer opened the meeting and a roll call of all Committee Members present and any Councillors in attendance was taken.
The Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer then sought nominations for Chairman of the Joint Standards Committee for the remainder of the municipal year. Councillor S P Nunn nominated Councillor M W Helm be elected as Chairman and this was duly seconded. There were no other nominations and this was therefore agreed by assent.
RESOLVED that Councillor M W Helm be appointed as Chairman of the Joint Standards Committee for remainder of the municipal year.
IN THE CHAIR : COUNCILLOR M W HELM
Election of Vice-Chairman
To elect a Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the remainder of the municipal year.
The Chairman called for nominations for Vice-Chairman of this Committee for the remainder of the municipal year and nominated Councillor S P Nunn. This was duly seconded. Councillor Nunn advised that he had not been asked to fulfil this position and confirmed that he would not be standing. The Chairman called for any other nominations and Councillor C Swain nominated Councillor W Stamp.
In response to a question regarding appointing Councillor Stamp as she was not present at the meeting, the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer advised so long as the person nominated was a standing Member of the Committee there was nothing to prevent another Member from nominating them.
The nomination for Councillor Stamp as Vice-Chairman was duly seconded. Prior to agreeing by assent this nomination it was noted that confirmation from Councillor Stamp that she was happy to assume this post would be sought at the next meeting of the Committee she was in attendance at.
RESOLVED that Councillor W Stamp be appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Joint Standards Committee for the remainder of the municipal year.
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 situation. The Chairman then asked the Committee Services Advisor to go through the general housekeeping arrangements for the meeting.
Apologies for Absence and Substitution Notices
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs P A Channer, K W Jarvis, W Stamp and Mrs M E Thompson.
It was noted that in accordance with notice duly given Councillor A L Hull was attending as a substitute for Councillor Mrs Channer, Councillor C Swain as a substitute for Councillor Stamp and Councillor C P Morley as a substitute for Councillor Mrs Thompson.
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 30 January 2020, (copy enclosed).
(i) that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 30 January 2020 be received.
Mr Hodson, Independent Person, advised that he had been in attendance at this meeting, but this was not recorded. The Chairman advised that this would be amended.
(ii) that subject to the above amendment the Minutes of the meeting of the Joint Standards Committee held on 30 January 2020 be confirmed.
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 an independent investigation (attached at Appendix 1to the report) that had been undertaken following receipt of a Code of Conduct complaint against Councillor A S Fluker.
The report set out the three decisions for consideration by the Committee based on the evidence before them and sanctions it could apply if it was determined that a breach of the Code of Conduct had occurred.
The Chairman referred the Committee to the procedure for complaints determination, contained within the agenda pack which it would be following for this meeting.
The Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer presented the report and introduced Mr Oram, Independent Investigator who had carried out the investigation.
In response to a question regarding the sanctions detailed on pages 11 and 12 of the report and which of these the Committee could impose, and which required recommendation and subsequent approval by the Council the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer clarified:
Sanction 1. This was automatic as Minutes go to the Council;
Sanction 2. Although the Committee could issue a censure, a recommendation to the Council to issue a full censure would be of a higher level and require a vote of all Members of the Council.
Sanction 3. This is a power invested in the Joint Standards Committee;
Sanction 4. This would be a recommendation to the Council;
Sanction 5. Removal from any official position would need to be a Council decision and therefore would be a recommendation to the Council.
The Chairman then invited the Investigating Officer, Mr Oram, to summarise the conclusion of his report and make any clarifying remarks.
Mr Oram provided some background information regarding the complaint received and his investigation. It was noted that Councillor Fluker had not engaged with the investigation. Members were advised that in his consideration of whether the Code of Conduct (the Code) had been breached Mr Oram had to determine whether the alleged conduct came within the jurisdiction of the Code which could only be applied when a Member was conducting Council business. For this reason he had decided that conduct when attending Conservative and selection meetings fell outside of the jurisdiction, although Mr Oram noted that the Committee could take their own view. Mr Oram drew Members’ attention to section 5 of his report which set out his reasoning as to whether he felt there had been failures to comply with the Code of Conduct.
In accordance with the Procedure, the Chairman invited Members of the Committee and the Independent Person to ask the Investigator / Monitoring Officer any questions.
Officers responded to several questions raised, drawing Members’ attention to specific points within the report, providing clarification and further information including:
· The Investigator had decided not to use evidence from the witness who wished to remain anonymous.
· In respect of the comment ‘hello sailor’ the Investigator advised that he had concluded in his report that Councillor Fluker had failed to treat Councillor Siddall with respect ... view the full minutes text for item 1178.