Standards Committee – 27 November 2014
Chairman: Councillor Poole
Venue: Function Room 1, Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
Time: 2 pm
1. Substitutions (if any)
2. Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests.
3. To take the minutes of the meeting held on 3 July 2014 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
4. Assessment Panel Proceedings – To receive and where necessary confirm the minutes of the meetings of the panel held on 18 July and 7 October 2014.
5. Local Government Ombudsman – Local Authority Complaint – Statistics.
6. Complaints Schedule.
7. 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 Policy and Resources unless otherwise stated.
PRESENT: – Councillor Poole (in the Chair).
Councillors England (Vice-Chairman), Clark, Davison, O’Sullivan, Swift and Wells.
Mr W Harvie – Co-opted Member
The committee met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
82 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations made at the meeting.
83 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committee held on 3 July 2014, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
84 ASSESSMENT PANEL PROCEEDINGS – The minutes of the meeting of the Assessment Panel held on 7 October 2014 were received.
85 (4) LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN – LOCAL AUTHORITY COMPLAINT STATISTICS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report presenting the Local Government Ombudsman’s (LGO) Annual Review Letter 2014 containing the annual summary of statistics on complaints made to the LGO about North Lincolnshire Council for the year ending 31 March 2014. The LGO looked at maladministration complaints made by service users and members of the public about councils and other bodies acting on their behalves, such as school appeals panels.
The Annual Review Letter 2014, which was attached as appendix A to the report summarised (i) the complaints and enquiries received by the LGO about North Lincolnshire Council, and (ii) decisions made by the LGO following investigations or informal resolutions. For the first time this year the Annual Review Letter also provided complaint statistics for all local councils in one place available through an e-link. Comparable statistics for neighbouring councils were also attached as appendix B.
The Director responded to members’ questions on the content of the review letter.
Resolved – That the Local Government Ombudsman’s Annual Review Letter 2014, and accompanying statistics for North Lincolnshire be noted.
86 (5) COMPLAINTS SCHEDULE – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report updating the committee on progress made with complaints received.
The Director informed members that he expected that the complaints marked ‘ongoing’ on the schedule would be determined early in the New Year. To date, all other complaints had been completed.
In addition, the Director confirmed that in 2014 the number of complaints received had reduced significantly compared to previous years. The increase in training for clerks and members was likely to have been an influential factor, and further training was being planned post district election in 2015 for any new members as part of their induction, and for town and parish councils in consultation with the East Riding and Northern Lincolnshire Local Councils Association (ERNLLCA)
Resolved – That the report be noted and welcomed.
87 INTERNAL AUDIT OF STANDARDS ARRANGEMENTS – The Monitoring Officer reported orally that the above audit had been completed recently by the council’s internal auditors with an audit opinion of ‘significant assurance’, the highest level of assurance awarded. This achievement would be included in the council’s next Annual Governance Statement.
Resolved – That the committee welcomes internal audit’s opinion, and a press release be issued publicising the council’s Standards Arrangements having received the highest level of assurance awarded.