The Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer gave a verbal report, advising that he had received a request from Councillor S P Nunn asking that consideration be given to granting him a dispensation. Members were informed that Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011 gave powers to Local Authorities to grant a dispensation to a Member or Members where there might be a disclosable pecuniary interest, other pecuniary interest or non-pecuniary interest to debate or vote on a matter despite their particular interest.
The Council’s budget meeting was due to take place the following day (23 February 2021) and the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer advised that Councillor Nunn had a specific interest in one small aspect of one of the reports due for consideration. Due to the way that it was expected the reports would be voted on at the Council’s budget meeting the Officer explained that it would be more expeditious if Councillor Nunn and any other Member that had such an interest could participate in the budget by declaring a particular pecuniary interest but not stopped from debating or voting. The Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer provided some suggested wording for Members to consider if they were mindful to agree the dispensation.
In response to a Point of Order raised by Councillor R G Boyce, the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer advised that this matter was an urgent item of business as it had only been identified two days ago and having spoken with the S151 Officer it was felt expeditious and easier for Members if the dispensation was granted. He further explained that the nature of this dispensation under Section 33 often came up at short notice and if Members were in agreement with Councillor Boyce dispensation could be granted for only one year or just for one meeting.
A debate ensued. In response to a question regarding the urgency of the item, the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer provided Members with further information regarding this. The Officer further reported that information had been brought to him, not from the administration, and in his professional opinion following discussion with the Section 151 Officer they both agreed that use of Section 33 was entirely appropriate in these circumstances.
Councillor C Mayes proposed that in light of the Monitoring Officer’s advice the Committee grant a dispensation for all Members, for the period of the budget meeting on 22 February 2021 and then the matter be brought back to the Committee at the earliest opportunity for further discussion. This was duly seconded.
In response to a query the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer clarified that this dispensation would relate to all Members as there could be others in a similar situation to Councillor Nunn that he was not aware of. Following this clarification, Councillor Mayes amended her proposal, that the dispensation should cover all Members for the purposes of the forthcoming Council meeting on 22 February 2021. This amendment was duly seconded.
In accordance with Procedure Rule No. 13 (3) Councillor C Mayes requested a recorded vote. This was duly seconded.
For the recommendation:
Councillors M G Bassenger, Miss A M Beale, Mrs J L Fleming, MS Heard, A L Hull, C Mayes and N G F Shaughnessy.
Against the recommendation:
Councillor R G Boyce.
RESOLVED that under Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011 a dispensation be granted to all Members for the purpose of the budget meeting of the Council on 22 February 2021 and a further report on this dispensation be brought back for consideration at its earliest opportunity to a future meeting of the Joint Standards Committee.