Standards Committee – 29 January 2009
Chair: Mr P Kelly
Venue: Function Room 1, Pittwood House, Scunthorpe
- Substitutions (if any)
- Declarations of Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests, if any.
- To take the minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2008 as a correct record and authorise the chair to sign.
- Complaints Update:
- Pre- May 2008;
- Post 8 May 2008.
- Members’ Register of Interests.
- Any other items which the chair decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances which must be specified.
PRESENT: Councillor Swift (Vice-Chair in the Chair), Councillors Armitage, Davison, Poole Vickers and Whiteley.
Messrs D Cuckson, W Harvie and R Nixon.
DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interests.
182 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committee held on 27 November 2008, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.
183 COMPLAINTS UPDATE – The Monitoring Officer reported that two complaints referred by the Standards Board for England were still outstanding. The investigations had both been virtually completed and the reports would be submitted very shortly.
Since the new complaints regime had come into place 23 complaints had been received, of which 15 had been a composite complaint. Of these, 16 had been submitted to the Standards Board for England and accepted for investigation; three had been considered by an Assessment Sub- Committee, which had decided to take no action, and four had been referred for local investigation.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
184 (10) MEMBERS’ REGISTER OF INTERESTS – The Monitoring Officer submitted a report asking members to consider whether the Members’ Register of Interests should be published on the council’s website.
Section 81(1) of the Local Government Act 2000 provided that “The monitoring officer of each relevant authority must establish and maintain a register of interests of the members and co-opted members of the authority.” Paragraph 13 of the Members’ Code of Conduct required a member to register the categories of personal interests set out in paragraph 8 of the Code by providing written notification to the monitoring officer.
The register was maintained by the monitoring officer not the council but Section 81(6) provided that the council must ensure that copies of the register were available at an office of the council for inspection by members of the public at all reasonable hours. Publications of the register on the website would go beyond the requirement of Section 81(6).
The initial view of the Standards Board had been that this could only be done with the explicit consent of all of the members involved. However later advice after further consideration by the Information Commissioner was to the effect that councils could publish information already in the public domain as they saw fit.
Under the Governance element of the Use of Resources Assessment the Audit Commission had made reference to members’ registers and indicated that in its view it was good practice for such registers to be publicly available through councils’ websites.
Members were concerned that information placed on a website could be abused. They also felt that if the members’ register for North Lincolnshire Councillors and co-opted members was to be so published, the registers for parish and town councils in the area should similarly be published.
Resolved – That consideration of this matter be deferred to enable consultation with all members and co-opted members of the council: all parish and town councils in North Lincolnshire and ERNLLCA, and with officers from councils that have already published registers on their web sites.