Standards Committee – 22 July 2010
PRESENT: Mr W Harvie (in the chair); Councillors Swift (Vice-Chair), B Briggs, Davison, England, Swift, Whiteley and Wilson.
Messrs D Cuckson and R Nixon.
235 MINUTES – Resolved– (a) That the minutes of the meeting of this committee held on 10 June 2010, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.
236 THE EAST RIDING AND NORTHERN LINCOLNSHIRE LOCAL COUNCILS ASSOCIATION (ERNLLCA) – Alan Barker of ERNLLCA gave a presentation on the work of the Association and in particular its role in giving advice and assistance to member councils on various issues, including the Code of Conduct. Approximately 82 per cent of parish and town councils in North Lincolnshire were members of the Association which was affiliated to the National Association of Local Councils.
Resolved – That Mr Barker be thanked for an interesting and informative presentation and liaison with the Association on standards matters be maintained.
237 (5) COMPLAINTS/CODE OF CONDUCT UPDATE – The Monitoring Officer submitted an update on progress with complaints received.
Since the last meeting two complaints had been reviewed, relating to members of the same town council. A total of nine complaints were currently outstanding.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
238 (6) FUTURE OF THE STANDARDS REGIME – Further to Minute 231, The Monitoring Officer submitted a draft letter to Standards for England (SfE) for approval. He also reported that SfE had cancelled the Annual Assembly for 2010 and suspended the requirement for Monitoring officers to submit a quarterly report. The Department for Communities and Local Government had announced its intention to abolish Standards for England as part of its structural report plan. It was anticipated that a draft Localism Bill would be published in the autumn.
Resolved – (a) That the letter be approved; (b) that the Monitoring Officer report further as to the government’s plans in relation to the standards regime, and (c) that parish and town councils be advised of the current position.
239 (7) PUBLICATION OF MEMBERS’ REGISTER OF INTERESTS ON WEBSITE – Further to Minute 233, the Service Director Legal and Democratic submitted a report on progress made towards publication of the Register of Members’ Interests for North Lincolnshire Council, and inviting the committee to consider the issues in relation to publication of the registers of parish and town councils in North Lincolnshire.
At the last meeting the committee had agreed in principle to the publication on the council’s web site of the register for members and co-opted members of North Lincolnshire Council and all Town and Parish Councils in its area. It had been agreed that this would be on a phased basis with the register for North Lincolnshire members (and co-opted members) being published first with discussions then taking place with parish and town councils with regard to the subsequent publication of their members’ registers.
Publication of the North Lincolnshire registers could be done relatively easily, however so far as the parish and town council registers were concerned this was a much bigger task and would undoubtedly involve development work on the web site with associated costs.
Apart from the practical issues, there was also a need to consult with parish councils before publishing information about their members. Informal contact had been made with ERNLLCA who had advised that neither they nor the National Association of Local Councils had any firm views on the matter, although where parish registers had been published elsewhere in the country this had been on the parish councils’ own web sites. It was suggested that an item could be placed on the agenda for the October Town and Parish Liaison meeting and that a written consultation exercise be carried out. By that time there would hopefully be some indication as to what the government’s proposal to “abolish the Standards Board regime” entailed beyond abolition of the Board itself and in particular whether the Code of Conduct and associated registers were to be retained.
Resolved – (a) That publication of the register for members and co-opted members of North Lincolnshire Council be progressed as outlined in paragraph 2.2 of the report, and (b) that consultation take place with parish and town councils and ERNLLCA as outlined in paragraph 2.5.