Standards Sub-Committee 23 June 2008
Chairman: Mr P Kelly
Venue: International Room, Pittwood House, Ashby Road, Scunthorpe
Please note: The sub-committee may consider any applications submitted for the exclusion of the public under 1(i) below, and then may decide to exclude the public from the meeting for consideration of the following item on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in appropriate paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).
- To conduct a hearing into allegations that ex Councillor Huw Davies, of Keadby with Althorpe Parish Council failed to comply with and breached the Parish Council’s Code of Conduct.
- Procedure at hearings.
- Legal Advisor’s summary.
- Report of Will Bell and Richard Mell – Investigating Officers.
- Code of Conduct.
Note: Any responses from ex Councillor Davies will be reported at the meeting.
Hearing date: 23 June 2008
RE: Reference about possible failures to follow the code of conduct
Respondent: Councillor Huw Davies
Relevant authority: Keadby-with-Althorpe Parish Council
Mr Paul Kelly (independent member) (Chair)
Mrs Yvonne Aubrey (parish council member)
1. The Referral from the Standards Board for England
1.1 The Sub-Committee considered a matter referred to the council by the Standards Board for England (reference SBE 15919.06). Mr W Bell, Chief Solicitor and Mr R Mell, Principal Democratic Services Officer had investigated the complaint and produced a report.
1.2 The councillor the subject of the complaint had been provided with a copy of the investigating officers’ report and had been given the opportunity to respond. A response had been received and was circulated to members of the sub-committee.
Messrs Bell and Mell attended to present their report.
The sub-committee was advised by the Monitoring Officer, Mr M Wood.
The respondent was not present.
3. The complaint
3.1 A complaint had been received that ex-councillor H Davies had not complied with the Members Code of Conduct adopted by Keadby-with-Althorpe Parish Council in that he had in two instances breached the code.
3.2 The Standards Board for England had considered the complaint and decided that only one of the alleged breaches warranted referral to an Ethical Standards Officer. In accordance with S60 of the Local Government Act 2000, and the Local Authorities (Code of Conduct) (Local Determination) Regulations of 2003 and 2005, the complaint had been referred to the Monitoring Officer for investigation.
3.3 The nature of the complaint was that ex-councillor Davies, who was at the time chair of the council, interrupted the complainant and the other councillors after the Council meeting on 15 June 2006. Ex-councillor Davies was alleged to have said to the complainant in a loud and aggressive manner “Nothing but lies come out of your f**king mouth” It was alleged that ex-councillor Davies had failed to treat the complainant with respect (Paragraph 2) and brought his office and his authority into disrepute (Paragraph 4).
4. Investigating officer’s report
Arising out of the investigation a report had been prepared. This had concluded that there was evidence that ex-councillor Davies had breached Paragraphs 2 and 4 the Code of Conduct.
In preparation for the hearing ex-councillor Davies had been provided with a copy of the report. Additionally he had been provided with a number of forms to complete to try to simplify the hearing by identifying those matters which were agreed and those which were disputed. His responses were circulated.
6. Submissions by the investigating officers
6.1 The investigating officers had submitted a detailed account of their investigation and conclusions which they summarised at the hearing.
7. Findings of fact
7.1 The sub-committee found the following –
7.1.1. Words were exchanged between ex-councillor Davies and Mrs Carroll at the end of the meeting of the Keadby-with-Althorpe Parish Council on 15 June 2006 but the precise form of words used by ex-councillor Davies cannot be established. Ex-councillor Davies says that he said “While I am in the Chair, you will never be made welcome at these meetings because you take the truth and twist it into lies.”
7.1.2 Ex-councillor Davies was acting in his capacity as a councillor at the time of the incident as he was signing council cheques and according to his version of events referred to himself as the chair.
8. Whether the material facts disclose failure to comply with the Code of Conduct
8.1 Whilst the form of words alleged by the complainant to have been used cannot be substantiated, the version put forward by ex-councillor Davies in itself constitutes a breach of the code by failing to treat the complainant with respect.
8.2 Regarding the allegation that ex-councillor Davies brought his office or authority into disrepute the sub-committee considered that the history between the complainant and ex-councillor Davies was such that it was unlikely that the effect of what was said (other potential witnesses were unable to shed any light on the precise words) would have further influenced the complainants view of the council or its then chair.
9.1 The sub-committee reached the following decisions having considered written and oral evidence and the submission of the investigating officers.
9.1.1 That ex-councillor Davies breached the Code by failing to treat the complainant with respect.
9.1.2 That in respect of the allegation that ex-councillor Davies brought his office or authority into disrepute, in the circumstances the sub-committee is not able to find that a breach had occurred.
9.1.3. That ex-councillor Davies be censured.
9.1.4 The respondent may apply to the Adjudication Panel of England for permission to appeal against the decision within 21 days of receiving written notification of the decision.