Standards Sub-Committee – 29 April 2010
Chair: Mr W Harvie
Venue: Council Chamber, Pittwood House, Ashby Road, Scunthorpe
Time: 9.30 am.
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 Councillors Beadle and Ms Reeves of East Halton Parish Council failed to comply with and breached the council’s Code of Conduct.Papers attached:
- Procedure at hearings.
- Legal Advisor’s summary.
- Complaint from Mrs S M Simmons.
- Report of Will Bell – Investigating Officer.
- Code of Conduct.
Note: Any responses from Councillors Beadle and Ms Reeves will be reported at the meeting.
Re: reference concerning possible failure to follow the code of conduct
Respondents: Councillor Gary Albert Beadle, Councillor Elizabeth Reeve
Relevant authority: East Halton Council
Mr Wayne Harvie (independent member) (chair)
Councillor Yvonne Aubrey (parish member)
CouncillorJohn Kitwood (parish member)
Councillor John England (member)
Councillor David Whiteley (member)
- The Referral
1.1. The Sub Committee considered a matter which had been referred for investigation by an Assessment Sub Committee (reference 2008-9/40 & 41). Will Bell (Legal Services) had investigated the complaint and produced a report.1.2 The Respondents had been provided with a copy of the investigating officer’s report and had been given an opportunity to respond.
Will Bell attended and presented the report.The sub committee was advised by the Monitoring Officer, Mr Mike Wood.
Neither Respondent attended because of other commitments.
- The Complaint
3.1 A complaint had been received that the Respondents had breached the Code of Conduct by failing to treat the complainant with respect, failing to declare interests and seeking improperly to influence a decision.3.2 The complaint had been made by Mrs S M Simmons, a resident of East Halton.
- Submission by the Respondent
4.1 There was no submission for excluding the press and public.4.2 Both Respondents had returned the forms issued by the Monitoring Officer. Councillor Beadle had asked for a date change to be incorporated and put forward mitigation.
- Submission by the Investigating Officer
5.1 The Investigating officer submitted an account of the investigation, the interviews which had been undertaken together with his findings and conclusions.
- Findings/Failure to comply with the Code
6.1 Councillor Beadle had declared a personal interest at meetings of the East Halton Parish Council on 2 May, 6 June, 4 July, 1 August and 5 September 2008 when issues relating to the closure of Footpath 75 had been discussed.6.2 He owned land abutting the footpath on which he ran a kennels and cattery business.
6.3 In view of the effect a closure of the footpath would have on his land a personal and prejudicial interest should have been declared on those occasions.
6.4 He believed he had acted correctly as he claimed he had sought advice from a ward councillor.
6.5 Although he did not withdraw from the meetings he neither spoke nor voted at the meetings and claimed he had acted in error rather than with any untoward interest.
6.6 There was no corroboration of the incident which the Complainant alleged took place on 10 December 2008 when he was verbally abusive to her.
6.7 Councillor Reeve had not made any declaration of interest at the meetings mentioned in paragraph 6.1 above.
6.8 Her brother in law owned land (a field/paddock) abutting the footpath.
6.9 She had declared an interest in an application for the change of use of land belonging to her ex sister in law but did not believe the current matter to be of the same nature.
6.10 In view of the effect a closure of the footpath would have on her brother in law’s land (a brother in law being a ‘member of family’ as defined in the Guidance) a personal and prejudicial interest should have been declared on those occasions.
6.11 Although she did not withdraw from the meetings Councillor Reeve neither spoke nor voted and there was no evidence of any improper motive.
6.12 There was no corroboration of the incident of verbal abuse which the Complainant alleged took place in October 2007.
The sub committee reached the following decision having taken into account all written and oral representations.7.1 No breach of the Code of Conduct had been demonstrated on behalf of either Respondent as regards an alleged failure to treat the Complainant with respect.
7.2 Both Respondents should have declared personal and prejudicial interests on the occasions mentioned on account of either owning land (Councillor Beadle) or a member of family owning land (Councillor Reeve) abutting the footpath.
7.3 On the evidence there was no attempt by either Respondent to seek to improperly influence any decision.
7.4 Both Respondents would receive a letter of censure and be required to attend an appropriate training session