Localism Act 2011 (Standards Arrangements Committee)
Chairman: To be appointed
Venue: Function Room 2, Civic Centre, Ashby Road, Scunthorpe
1. To appoint a chairman.
3. Declarations of Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests.
The public are likely to be excluded from the meeting for consideration of the following item on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 5 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).
4. The Localism Act 2011 – Revised “Standards” Regime.
5. 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 Corporate and Community Services unless otherwise stated.
Councillor Poole thereupon took the chair.
2. DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests made at the meeting.
3. (1) THE LOCALISM ACT 2011 – REVISED ‘STANDARDS’ REGIME -Pursuant to minute 2080 of council, the Director of Corporate and Community Services submitted a report which considered some of the key issues to be progressed in relation to the revised standards regime arising from the Localism Act 2011.
The Director in his report reminded the committee that at the meeting of the council on 21 February 2012, consideration was given to his report informing the council of key changes to the standards regime arising from the Localism Act 2011. In summary the Act abolished the current standards arrangements and introduced a new regime with a number of key features which included –
- A requirement that all councils, including town and parish councils, adopt their own Code of Conduct, the content of which to be at their discretion except that it must be consistent with the following seven principles: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership;
- A requirement that the Monitoring Officer establish a register of members’ interests, including those of town and parish council members, which was to be kept at the council’s offices and to be available for inspection on its website;
- A requirement for members to disclose “disclosable pecuniary interests” (yet to be defined in regulations) with a possible criminal sanction for not doing so;
- A responsibility on the council to adopt its own “arrangements” for dealing with complaints that its members and those of town and parish councils had failed to comply with the relevant Code of Conduct;
- A requirement that an independent person(s) be appointed to primarily comment on any investigations for breach of the Code;
- Revised grounds for the granting of dispensations.
The report also stated that the Department for Communities and Local Government had confirmed, subject to regulation, that councils should have all necessary revised arrangements in place so that they could take effect from 1 July 2012. Until that time the current Standards Committee would need to continue to discharge the existing standards regime.
The Director in his report emphasised that it was, therefore, necessary for the council to begin work to prepare for the new regime and to have arrangements in place by 1 July 2012, effectively meaning that such arrangements would need to be presented to council for approval at the annual meeting on 15 May 2012. Accordingly, his report to council had sought approval for a number of preparatory measures to be taken to progress the council’s readiness for implementation of the revised standards arrangements. The council had agreed to the establishment of this committee, comprising two members of the ruling group and one member of the opposition group from the current Standards Committee. Its work would include settling the necessary terms of appointment for an independent person(s) and to advertise, shortlist and interview and recommend an appointment to council and work with the Monitoring Officer to form recommendations to council on certain matters detailed within that report. In addition, the Monitoring Officer was instructed to prepare for council’s approval –
- A draft Code of Conduct pursuant to Section 28 of the Act
- A draft register of members interests pursuant to Section 29 of the Act
- A draft set of “arrangements” pursuant to Section 28 of the Act, detailing amongst other things, the procedures the council shall adopt for dealing with Standards complaints and the grant of dispensations and
- Such other recommendations as considered necessary arising from the report and its appendices.
Work on a draft Code of Conduct and a draft register of members interests was progressing within the constraints of the information available nationally.
Attached as appendices to this report were –
- Information on the recruitment of an Independent Person(s) including a role profile, a person specification and an advert.
- The draft North Lincolnshire Council’s “arrangements” for dealing with standards allegations under the Localism Act 2011
The Director of Corporate and Community Services updated the committee on progress made on the content of the above documents and responded to members’ questions. He also informed members of and sought their views on – developing further an E-Learning package for all members and members and clerks of town and parish councils, the possible composition of the future standards committee from 1 July 2012 and work with other local authorities, remuneration of the independent person, advertising arrangements for the independent person and proposed arrangements for short listing, interview and appointment of the independent person.
Resolved – (a) That ‘North Lincolnshire Council’s ‘Arrangements’ for dealing with standards allegations under the Localism Act 2011’ attached as appendix A to the report be approved, subject to the inclusion of minor amendments discussed and submission of its appendices to a future meeting, and adoption by council; (b) that the ‘Information on the Recruitment of an Independent Person’ including the corresponding advert be approved, subject to the inclusion of minor amendments discussed; (c) that arrangements be made to advertise for a North Lincolnshire Independent Person using the documentation in (b) as from 22 March 2012 using the council’s website and Scunthorpe Telegraph, with a closing date of 5 April 2012; (d) that appropriate short listing arrangements involving all members of the committee be made for 16 April 2012 and formal interviews then be carried out by this committee on 26 April 2012; (e) that the development and use of the above E-Learning package be welcomed and further progress be reported to a future meeting, and (f) that the remuneration of the Independent Person be on the same basis as the current co-optees’ allowance on the council’s committees (£42 per formal meeting, together with expenses incurred in travelling), subject to any changes to members’ and co-optees’ allowances considered and approved by council at its annual meeting in May 2012.