Standards Committee – 27 March 2013
Time: 2 pm
- Substitutions (if any)
- Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests.
- To take the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2013 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
- Complaints update.
- Annual Report 2011/2012 Protocol for Disclosable Pecuniary Interest complaints.
- Any other which that the chairman decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances which must be specified.Note: All reports are by the Director of Policy and Resources unless otherwise stated.
PRESENT: Councillor Poole (in the Chair).
Councillors England (Vice-Chairman), Clark, Davison Swift, Wells and Whiteley.
Co-opted (non-voting) Members: Messrs W Harvie and P Kelly
Independent Person: Mr J Goolden. Reserve Independent Person: Mr R Johnson.
The committee met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
15 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committeeheld on 23 January 2013, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
16 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interest.
17 (8) COMPLAINTS UPDATE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report updating the committee on progress made with complaints received.
Of the pre-July 2012 complaints, one was still to be concluded. The report had been completed and a Determination Panel would be convened shortly. Since 1 July 2012, ten complaints had been received. Two were to be investigated and one was to be considered by the Assessment Panel on the rising of this meeting
Resolved – That the report be noted.
18 (9) STANDARDS COMMITTEE – ANNUAL REPORT 2011/2012 – PROTOCOL FOR DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTEREST COMPLAINTS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report inviting the committee to (i) consider the Annual Report of the Standards Committee under the previous statutory Standards regime for the period May 2011 to 30 June 2012; (ii) to determine the future annual reporting requirements of the Standards Committee under the Council’s revised Standards regime, and (iii) to approve a protocol with Humberside Police for the handling of complaints concerning Disclosable Pecuniary Interests under the Localism Act 2011.
On 1 July 2012 the Council’s revised Standards regime arising from the Localism Act 2011 had been introduced. Under the previous statutory regime the independently chaired Standards Committee had reported annually on its activities for the municipal year.
With the change in regimes in 2012, the previous Standards Committee whilst continuing to oversee the discharge of the outgoing statutory regime had necessarily led on the Council’s preparations for its new regime. Consequently, in addition to receiving regular updates on complaint activity levels, the Standards Committee and Council had received several comprehensive reports on the new regime and attendant arrangements.
Now that the Council’s new regime was firmly embedded, it seemed appropriate, for the sake of completeness, to receive a report that capped the activity of the previous statutory regime to the 30 June 2012, and for the Committee to determine what future annual reporting requirements it would like to establish.
Appendix 1 to the report detailed the standard annual reporting information provided under the previous statutory regime. It was proposed that a similar basis of reporting was established for the new regime and that the first report would be prepared on the anniversary of the coming into force of the new regime on 1 July 2013. It was noted that the new arrangements had brought to an end the requirement for Parish and Independent Members to sit on Standards Committees. Mr P Kelly, who had been appointed as a non-voting member of the committee under the new arrangements, indicated that he believed that this would be an appropriate time to step down as the arrangements appeared to be working very well.
The Localism Act 2011 had also introduced the concept of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests for which, in certain circumstances, a failure to register and/or disclose could leave members liable to criminal conviction. Under the Act, the Police in conjunction with the Director of Public Prosecutions, were responsible for prosecuting offences. The Act was however silent on the processes to be followed on how such complaints should be handled and in such circumstances it was considered that a protocol be established with Humberside Police to clarify matters.
A Protocol, attached at Appendix 2 to the report, had been agreed with Humberside Police and with the Monitoring Officer of North East Lincolnshire Council who was proposing that it be implemented for that Authority’s complaints also. This was consistent with the approach taken hitherto with the revised Standards regime adopted by North East Lincolnshire Council mirroring that adopted by this Council.
Resolved – (a) That the Annual Report of the Standards Committee under the previous statutory regime for the period May 2011 to June 2012 as detailed at Appendix 1 be received; (b) that the Standards Committee receive its first Annual Report on the Council’s revised Standards regime following the first anniversary of the implementation of such regime after 1 July 2013; (c) that the committee records its thanks to Mr Kelly and to the former Independent and Parish members for their valuable service to the committee, and (d) that the protocol with Humberside Police at Appendix 2 for the handling of complaints concerning Disclosable Pecuniary Interests be approved subject to the addition of a paragraph making it clear that the Monitoring Officer and Humberside Police will keep complainants notified on the progress of their complaint, and that such protocol be incorporated into the Council’s standards regime ‘Arrangements’.