Issue - meetings

Amendments to the Code of Conduct Reporting Process

Meeting: 12/12/2023 - Audit and Governance Committee (Item 63)

63 Amendments to the Code of Conduct Reporting Process pdf icon PDF 232 KB

A report to propose an amendment to the functions of the Standards Panel, which will streamline the joint functions of the Audit and Governance Committee and Standards Panel.


Additional documents:


The Head of Legal Services (HLS) introduced the report the purpose of which was to propose changes to the code of conduct arrangements in particular the way that members of the standards panel are made aware of the decisions made by the monitoring officer and officers.  The proposal is to improve transparency, usefulness and time of member feedback for officers and the monitoring officer.


The HSL provided the committee with a presentation highlighting the relevant changes proposed, in response to committee questions, it was noted:


1.     In relation to concerns with the new process taking up more time of officers, the HLS said the situation would be monitored but suggested having looked at the time that had been spent preparing for a particular meeting the new process would be considerably less as it would just be information sharing over email or an informal conversation with members in real time rather than an official meeting and preparing for an official meeting six months to a year after the actual issue had been dealt with.

2.     The HSL explained that the Council has 4 independent persons who are usually picked on their availability to sit on the standards panel. Once a complaint is started, the same independent person would be used throughout the process. It was confirmed that the parish council representative is nominated by Herefordshire Association of Local Councils (HALC).

3.     The HSL confirmed there was no official sanctions under the Council’s code of conduct. The code of conduct reporting process / a standards hearing was the only sanction in place.

4.     A report from the standards commission went before central government two years ago with regards to making changes around sanctions but the response back was they had no current plans to make any changes to the to the current regime.

5.     The HSL explained that the Chairperson of the committee only has authority as set out in the constitution which is typically in relation to the conduct and efficient discharge of a meeting and currently does not give them the power to remove a member from the panel/ committee. It was explained that only full council could remove a member from a committee, but where a sub-committee had been created, the owners of the Sub-Committee were entitled to remove / amend members as necessary.

6.     It was highlighted that the Audit and Governance committee were responsible for appointing the three members to the standards panel.

7.     With regards to the wording in Appendix 2 “Such notices will be retained until the later of 6 years, or the subject member ceasing to be an elected member”.the HSL recognised comments made surrounding councillors who leave and return to the authority. It was suggested that the wording be revised to state notices will be retained for 6 years.

8.     It was suggested and agreed that should for any reason a member of the standards panel be unable to act (a complaint made against them, a conflict of interest, sickness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63