Standards Committee – 24 July 2008
Chair: Mr P Kelly
Venue: Function Room 1, Pittwood House, Scunthorpe
Time: 2 pm
- Substitutions (if any)
- Declarations of Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests, if any.
- To take the minutes of the meeting held on 5 June 2008 as a correct record and authorise the chair to sign.
- Guidance from the Standards Board
- The role and make up of Standards Committees
- Local Assessment of Complaints
- Complaints Update
- Pre- May 2008
- Post 8 May 2008
- Annual Report of the Monitoring Officer
- Local Assessment Exercise
- Any other items which the chair decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances which must be specified.
PRESENT: Mr P Kelly (Chair), Councillor Swift (Vice-Chair), Councillors Armitage, Davison, Poole, Vickers and Whiteley.
Mrs Y Aubrey and Messrs D Cuckson, W Harvie, J Kitwood, and R Nixon.
167 DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interests.
168 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committee held on 5 June 2008, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.
169 (2) GUIDANCE FROM THE STANDARDS BOARD – The Service Director Legal and Democratic submitted two sets of guidance from the Standards Board for England.
(i) The Role and Make up of Standards Committees – This guidance was on the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008. It gave the Board’s view on the role and make up of standards committees. The regulations were mandatory and the guidance had to be taken into account by the council.
Resolved – (a) That the guidance be noted; (b) that the annual reports on complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman be submitted to the committee for information; (c) that the committee is of the view that there should not any be limit on the time that an independent member may serve on the committee, and (d) that Independent and parish and town representatives be regarded as co-opted members under the council’s allowance scheme.
(ii) Local Assessment of Complaints – This guidance was designed to help members and officers involved in the assessment of complaints that a member may have breached the Code of Conduct. It detailed each stage of the assessment of complaints and offered suggestions for effective practice. In addition it provided a toolkit of useful document templates that might be used or adapted by councils as required.
Each council had to develop effective procedures to fulfil its legislative requirements. Members and officers involved in the assessment of complaints had to take the guidance into account when doing so.
Resolved – (a) That the guidance be noted; (b) that members against whom a complaint is made be advised of the receipt of the complaint only after the Assessment Sub-Committee has considered the complaint;(c) that a report be submitted to a future meeting on dealing with multiple and vexatious complaints, and (d) that appropriate guidance be drawn to members’ attention at relevant times.
170 (3) COMPLAINTS UPDATE – The Monitoring Officer reported that three complaints referred by the Standards Board for England were currently being investigated.
Since the new complaints regime had come into place three complaints had been received. Two had been dealt with by an Assessment Sub-Committee of which one was being investigated locally. The third complaint would need to be the subject of an Assessment Sub-Committee meeting which would be arranged shortly.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
171 (4) ANNUAL REPORT OF THE MONITORING OFFICER – The Monitoring officer submitted his Annual Report on Code of Conduct matters for then year 2007 –2008.
There had been five references to the Standards Board involving a total of eleven members of North Lincolnshire Council. One reference related to seven members. These allegations raised issues of respect and bringing the council into disrepute. Four of these references had not been pursued by the Standards Board after an initial assessment, the other had been referred for local investigation.
There were no matters arising from these references that needed to be drawn to members’ attention.
Two references had been made to the Standards Board in respect of North Lincolnshire Council members in their capacity as town/parish councillors. Neither had been pursued after initial assessment.
There had been five references to the Standards Board involving parish/town councillors. Two had not been pursued after initial assessment and one had been referred to the Monitoring Officer. An investigation into that complaint was ongoing. In addition the Standards Board had completed an investigation commenced in the previous period. This had resulted in a finding of a failure to declare a personal interest on which the Board had decided to take no action. Other allegations had been dismissed.
The Standards Committee had determined one case referred by the Standards Board. This related to a town councillor. It had found that there had been no breach of the code.
Members had received training in Standards as part of their induction following the 2007 elections. Town and Parish councils had been given a presentation on the Code in April 2008.
The report indicated that this would be the last annual report under the previous regime. It outlined the changes arising from the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008 and advised that internal audit had carried out an assessment against the Standards Board checklist and found that the systems and procedures put in place were sound.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
172 (5) LOCAL ASSESSMENT EXERCISE – Resolved – That consideration of this item be deferred to the next meeting.