Standards Committee – 18 January 2017
Chairman: Councillor Poole
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
Time: 10 am
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 23 November 2016 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
4. Standards Mediation Service.
5. Complaints Schedule – Update.
6. 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), Armitage, Collinson, Ellerby, T.Foster, and Wells.
W Harvie – Co-opted (Non-voting) Member.
The committee met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
178 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – Councillor Collinson declared a personal interest as a member of Bottesford Town Council andCouncillor Wells declared a personal interest arising from his membership of East Riding and Northern
Lincolnshire Local Councils Association (ERNLLCA).
179 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committeeheld on 23 November 2016, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
180 (11) STANDARDS MEDIATION SCHEME – Further to minute 171, the Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report on progress in establishing a ‘mediation scheme’ as an alternative remedy in seeking to resolve some of the complaints received by the Standards Committee under its Standards Arrangements. The Director also sought approval of proposed amendments to the council’s Standards Arrangements so as to incorporate the Mediation Scheme, and to authorise the Monitoring Officer to make such other amendments as were considered necessary following consideration by the committee.
The report explained that the Standards Committee continued to produce an annual report, and provide training, on the numbers and types of complaints that it received in the year under the Members’ Code of Conduct. Analysis suggested that some of the complaints might be better suited to being mediated rather than investigated under the council’s Standards Arrangements, and that mediation might offer a more realistic prospect of resolving those conduct related complaints particularly involving members of the same Town or Parish council before they became too entrenched and potentially disruptive to the smooth running of the council concerned.
Discussions have been held with the council’s Human Resources Service who had developed a Mediation Scheme (attached as appendix 1), which could be offered to Town and Parish Councils to mediate complaints between their members or following a recommendation by the Committee (acting through an Assessment Panel or the Monitoring Officer) following receipt of a Standards complaint. The concept of introducing a Mediation Scheme had been discussed with both Independent Persons as well as the Chief Executive of ERNLLCA, all of whom are supportive. Also, it would be necessary to revise the council’s Standards Arrangements to incorporate the potential for mediation to be recommended as an alternative means to resolving complaints informally or indeed as a means of local resolution following investigation, or as part of the sanctions available following investigation. A copy of the council’s current Standards Arrangements was attached as appendix 2 to the report, showing suggested changes in bold.
Members engaged in discussions on the proposal especially on potential users of the mediation scheme having the choice of using other similar appropriate mediation schemes available, likely associated costs of using the scheme and having appropriate discretion when allocating costs on a case by case basis. The Director responded to questions asked by members.
Resolved Unanimously – (a) That the Mediation Scheme as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report be approved and adopted; (b) that the amendments to incorporate the Mediation Scheme into the council’s Standards Arrangements as detailed in Appendix 2 of the report be approved; (c) that the Monitoring Officer be authorised to make such other associated amendments as are considered necessary to the council’s Standards Arrangements, and (d) that in the cases where the complaint involves members of the same Town or Parish that council should bear the costs of the mediation used, and the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chairman, be authorised to determine all other costs for users of the mediation scheme on a case by case basis.
181 (12) COMPLAINTS SCHEDULE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report updating the committee on progress made with complaints received.
The Director updated members on the complaints schedule, and in doing so indicated that the complaints SC/16/08, SC/16/10 and SC/16/14 were to be investigated jointly following consideration by an Assessment Panel on 1 December 2016. Apart from three complaints received recently which were waiting assessment by the Assessment Panel and/or Monitoring Officer, the schedule was up to date.
Resolved – That the report be noted.