Agenda and minutes
Venue: On line meeting only
Contact: Caroline Marshall, democratic services officer
To receive any apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
Councillors Peter Jinman and Yolande Watson both declared that one parish council within their ward had been identified but that there was no close personal association.
Councillor Jinman also declared that one subject member was known to him but that there was no close personal association. Councillor Jinman confirmed that he had sought the advice of the monitoring officer to ensure his understanding of the rules.
Exclusion of press and public
In the opinion of the Proper Officer, the following item will not be, or is likely not to be, open to the public and press at the time it is considered.
RECOMMENDATION: that under section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Schedule 12(A) of the Act, as indicated below and it is considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
2 Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.
The panel discussed whether the meeting should be held in public or private. During the course of the discussion, the following points were made:
the meeting of the standards panel held on 20 August 2020 be held in public.
To review a sample of monitoring officer resolution decisions between 1 November 2019 and 30 April 2020.
The monitoring officer presented the report and highlighted that it was a function of the panel to undertake a sample review of code of conduct complaints dealt with under monitoring officer resolution. These complaints included parish, town and county councillors and all complaints received and closed during the period were included as appendices to the report.
It was confirmed that if a complaint was withdrawn, then it would not be considered by the standards panel as a decision had not been taken by the monitoring officer.
As outlined in the annual governance statement, a review of the arrangements for
dealing with code of conduct complaints would be undertaken during the year 2020/21.
Taking appendices 2 to 15 in order:
A failure to declare an interest was a common complaint against councillors. In this instance, the monitoring officer had met with the councillor and it was clear that there was a lack of training and understanding of the code of conduct. There was no personal gain involved and therefore the resolution was training which had been undertaken by the councillor concerned.
It was noted that the time taken to conclude this complaint was 85 working days and the process was 55 working days. However, it was difficult to conclude complaints within 55 working days if they were complex. It was acknowledged that was not nice to be the subject of a complaint and any delays would always look as if they lay with the monitoring officer.
It was noted that declarations of interests were always the responsibility of the individual councillor but that it was always better to declare an interest than not.
The panel noted that in this instance there had been some naivety about the declaration and it was unfortunate that it had not been dealt with appropriately by the council before it became a formal complaint.
It was noted that this matter had been appealed but that the deputy monitoring officer had upheld the decision as there were no new facts to justify an appeal.
This was a complaint against a failure to declare. The councillors had provided a full response. The matter had been appealed but no new evidence had been submitted in order to uphold it.
It was confirmed that when the decision notice was sent to complainants and councillors, details of how to appeal were included. It was noted if there were new allegations contained within an appeal, this would be considered as a new complaint.
The panel requested that details of appeals received and rejected were included within appendix 1 in future.
This complaint had been resolved under Any Other Course of Action. The councillor had resigned and a public interest test had been undertaken in relation to continuing the complaint as complaints were not automatically discontinued when councillors resigned.
In this matter, the monitoring officer had already recommended that the council undertake code of conduct training and this complaint would not add to that intervention.
It was ... view the full minutes text for item 22.