Standards Committee (Hearings Panel) – 12 February 2013
Chair: Councillor England
Venue: International Room, Civic Centre, Ashby Road, Scunthorpe
Time: 2 pm
- Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal and Personal and Prejudicial (if any).
Please note: The Panel may consider any applications submitted for the exclusion of the public under 2(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 consider the findings of the Investigating Officer Miss Lisa Kershaw, into an allegation that Councillor Neil Turner of Barton upon Humber Town Council breached the council’s Code of Conduct.
Papers attached: –
(i) Procedure at hearings.
(ii) Legal Advisor’s Summary
(iii) Report of Miss Lisa Kershaw -Investigating Officer.
(iv) The Code of Conduct
HEARING DATE: 12 February 2013
RESPONDENT: (Former) Councillor Neil Turner
RELEVANT AUTHORITY: Barton–upon–Humber Town Council
PANEL MEMBERS:Councillors John England (Chairman), David Wells and David Whiteley1. The Referral
1.1. The Panel considered a matter that had been referred for investigation by an Assessment Sub Committee (reference 09-10/06). Miss Lisa Kershaw (Legal Services) had investigated the complaint and produced a report.
1.2 The Respondent had been provided with a copy of the investigating officer’s report and had been given an opportunity to respond and to attend the hearing. He had indicated by way of an exchange of emails that he may not be able to attend the hearing. He had however made written comments on the draft report and these had been taken into account by the Investigating Officer.
Miss Kershaw attended and presented her report.
The Respondent did not attend.
The Panel was advised by the Monitoring Officer, Mr Will Bell.
3. The Complaint
3.1 A complaint had been received that the Respondent had breached the 2007 Code of Conduct by failing to declare personal and prejudicial interests (paragraphs 8,9, 10 and 12), preventing access to information (Paragraph 4 (b) of the Code) and bringing his office into disrepute (Paragraph 5 of the Code). An Assessment Sub-Committee had considered the complaint and had referred the allegation in respect of failing to declare interests to the Monitoring Officer for investigation and determined that no action should be taken on the other allegations. The complainant had exercised his right to request a review and a Review Sub – Committee, whilst upholding the Assessment Sub – Committee’s decision not to take any action in respect of the allegation of preventing access to information, had directed that the allegation of bringing his office into disrepute be investigated.
3.2 The complaint had been made by Mr Montagu Martin, a resident of Barton – upon – Humber. He had alleged that at various meetings of the Barton Town Council, the Respondent had failed to disclose personal and prejudicial interests as a Trustee in the Community Heritage, Arts and Media Project (CHAMP) and/or as Director and Vice – Chairman of CHAMP Ltd, and that at certain meetings he had failed to withdraw from the meeting at the appropriate time. He further alleged that as the Respondent was aware of the fragile financial position of CHAMP and as CHAMP and the Town Council had separate and divergent interests, in the circumstances his failure to address his conflicting interests would potentially lead electors to reasonably conclude that there was collusion between CHAMP and the Town Council and that the best interests of the electors were not being considered, and as such he had therefore brought his authority into disrepute.
3.3. There was no submission for excluding the press and public
4. Submission by the Investigating Officer
4.1 The Investigating Officer submitted her report of the investigation, including the interview that had been undertaken with the Respondent together with her findings and conclusions. Her report concluded that paragraphs 8,9, 10 and 12 had been breached by a failure to declare personal and/or personal and prejudicial interests at meetings of the Town Council as detailed in the report but that there had been no breach of paragraph 5, and as such the Respondent had not brought his authority into disrepute.
5. Findings/Failure to comply with the Code
5.1 The Panel found the following: –
5.1.1 That the Respondent failed to declare interests at some of the meetings referred to in the complaint and therefore technically breached paragraphs 8,9,10 and 12 of the Code of Conduct then in force;
5.1.2 That the Respondent did not breach paragraph 5 of the Code of Conduct.
6.1 Having carefully considered the information submitted and the representations made by the Investigating Officer the Panel found that the Respondent had breached paragraphs 8,9,10 and 12 of the Code of Conduct.
6.2 However the Panel was satisfied that there was no intention to deceive or gain personally on the part of the Respondent, nor was there any material impact on the decisions made at the meetings in question.
6.3 The Panel found that the Respondent had not breached Paragraph 5 of the Code.
6.4 The Panel noted that the Respondent was no longer a member of the Town council and that since 1 July 2012 the Panel had no powers to impose sanctions in respect of complaints received prior to that date. Therefore no action could be taken in respect of the breaches of Paragraphs 8,9,10 and 12 of the Code of Conduct.
7.1 The decision of the Panel is final and there is no right of appeal.
28 February 2013