Standards Committee – 14 September 2016
Chairman: Councillor Poole
Venue: Function Room 1, Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
Time: 2 pm
1. Substitutions (if any)
2. Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests.
3. To take the minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2016 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
4. Assessment Panel Proceedings – To receive and where necessary confirm the minutes of the meetings of the panel held on 10 June 2016.
5. Local Government Ombudsman – Local Authority Complaint Statistics
6. Complaints Schedule – Update.
7. Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances which must be specified.
Note: Reports are by the Director of Policy and Resources unless otherwise stated.
PRESENT: – Councillor Poole (in the Chair).
Councillors England (Vice-Chairman), Collinson, Godfrey, Mumby-Croft, Ogg, and O’Sullivan,
W Harvie – Co-opted (Non-voting) Member.
The committee met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
162 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interests made at the meeting.
163 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committeeheld on 30 March 2016, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
164 ASSESSMENT PANEL PROCEEDINGS – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of the Assessment Panel held on 10 June 2016, be received.
165 (9) LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN – LOCAL AUTHORITY COMPLAINT STATISTICS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report presenting the Local Government Ombudsman’s (LGO) Annual Review Letter 2016 containing the annual summary of statistics on complaints made to the LGO about North Lincolnshire Council for the year ending 31 March 2016. The LGO looked at maladministration complaints made by service users and members of the public about councils and other bodies acting on their behalves, such as school appeals panels.
The Annual Review Letter 2016, which was attached as appendix A to the report summarised (i) the complaints and enquiries received by the LGO about North Lincolnshire Council, and (ii) decisions made by the LGO following investigations or informal resolutions. Comparable statistics for neighbouring councils were also attached as appendix B.
Mr W Harvie also circulated to members additional related statistics compared against the council’s CIPFA benchmarking authorities.
The Director responded to members’ questions on the content of the review letter.
Resolved – That the Local Government Ombudsman’s Annual Review Letter 2016, and accompanying statistics for North Lincolnshire be noted.
166 (10) COMPLAINTS SCHEDULE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report updating the committee on progress made with complaints received.
The Director informed members that the complaint SC/16/04 and SC/16/06 were considered by an Assessment Panel on 8 September 2016, and SC/16/05 was assessed by the Monitoring Officer in accordance with the council’s published Standards Arrangements. No further action would be taken on all three complaints.
The Monitoring Officer also informed the committee that he had met recently with the Chief Officer of the East Riding and Northern Lincolnshire Local Councils Association (ERNLLCA) and the Independent Persons, as part of his quarterly meetings with them. They had discussed the possibilities of establishing a ‘Mediation Service’ which would address deep routed or difficult culture/relationship issues within Town and Parish Councils which were not likely to be resolved by standards complaints/investigations, and could cause Town and Parish Councils to operate ineffectively. A proposed ‘Mediation Service’ would be a proactive independent voice, would speak to all parties involved with a confidential tight focus and would aim to resolve matters which all parties would be bound by. The service would be run by the council and an appropriate charging mechanism applied. This type of service was becoming more visible nationally and was supported by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
Resolved – (a)That the report be noted, and (b) that the initial proposals for a Mediation Service as outlined by the Monitoring Officer be welcomed, and further updates be reported to future meetings of the committee.