Standards Committee – 3 July 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 16 April 2014 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.

4.  Hearings Panel Proceedings – To receive and where necessary confirm the minutes of the meetings of the panel held on 7 April 2014.

5.  To note the dates and times of future scheduled meetings of the committee –

  • Wednesday 17 September 2014 at 2.00 pm
  • Thursday 27 November 2014 at 2.00 pm
  • Wednesday 21 January 2015 at 2.00 pm
  • Wednesday 25 March 2015 at 2.00 pm

6.  Standards Committee – Annual Report 2013/14.

7.  Complaints and Training update.

8.  Complaints Schedule.

9.  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), Bainbridge, Clark, Davison O’Sullivan, and Wells.

Reserve Independent Person: Mr R Johnson.

Councillor Whiteley attended the meeting under the provisions of Procedure Rule 1.37b.

The committee met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe

75  DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – Councillor Wells declared an interest as a member of the board of the East Riding and Northern Lincolnshire Local Councils Association (ERNLLCA).

76  MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committeeheld on 16 April 2014, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.

77  HEARINGS PANEL PROCEEDINGS – The minutes of the meeting of the Hearings Panel held on 7 April 2014 were received.

78  DATES AND TIMES OF MEETINGS – Resolved – That the dates and times of future meetings of the committee be held at 2:00pm on – 

  • Wednesday 17 September 2014
  • Thursday 27 November 2014
  • Wednesday 21 January 2015
  • Wednesday 25 March 2015

79  (1)  STANDARDS COMMITTEE – ANNUAL REPORT – 2013/2014 – The Monitoring Officer submitted the above draft report of the Standards Committee under the council’s new standards regime and the Localism Act 2011 covering the period 1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014.

Members commented on the report and made suggestions for minor alterations.

Resolved – (a) That the 2013/14 Annual Report with the suggested minor alterations made be approved and submitted to council, (b) that following consideration by council, the 2013/14 Annual Report be circulated to town and parish councils in the North Lincolnshire area, and (c) that further training sessions be held with Clerks to Town and Parish councils as appropriate.

80  (2)  COMPLAINTS AND TRAINING UPDATE – Pursuant to minutes 73 and 74 the Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which explained proposed action to be taken to address some complainants and members cooperating in a timely manner with investigations. Options were set out in the report together with the preference to reiterate the importance to all participants involved in an investigation, including investigating officers, of the need to act in a timely manner with a view to investigations being completed ideally, within a six month period. Suggested appropriate amendments to the council’s Standards Arrangements including a revised model ‘investigative procedure’ were set out in Appendix 1 to the report. Also a series of standard letters had been devised for investigating officers to send to parties reiterating theses issues; these were attached at Appendix 2.

Further to minute 73, the Director in his report also explained that it had been difficult to obtain meaningful, comparable information whether other councils were experiencing similar issues, given that, under the Localism Act 2011, it was for each authority to settle its own Code of Conduct and arrangements for dealing with complaints. However, issues referred to appeared common across councils.

With reference to minute 73, the report stated that ERNLLCA supported the proposal for the council to provide an annual training event for Town and Parish Clerks based on the committee’s annual report. ERNLLCA had confirmed that they would be willing to support the Monitoring Officer in this and meet with him to structure the next event. It had also proved difficult to obtain any meaningful information on the practice adopted by other authorities in terms of their training provision and whether there was a correlation between the absence of training and the number of complaints received. Dialogue though with specialist Standards practitioners was encouraging as the committee’s practice of producing an annual report which was then received by council before being disseminated to all Town and Parish Councils, was seen as indicative of good practice, as indeed is the provision of training thereon.    

Members commented on the report and made suggestions for minor alterations to Appendix 1

Resolved – (a) That the council’s Standards Arrangements, including the minor alterations suggested to Appendix 1 be approved and adopted; (b) that the use of standard letters as set out in Appendix 2 be endorsed; (c) that training on the committee’s annual report be provided annually to Clerks to Town and Parish Councils in North Lincolnshire in conjunction with ERNLLCA; (d) that consideration be given to Standards Code of Conduct training for all new councillors as part of their induction following the May 2015 elections, and (e) that the Code of Conduct and associated arrangements be reviewed and any amendments endorsed by this committee prior to (d) above.

8  (3)  COMPLAINTS SCHEDULEThe 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 to be in a position to conclude and report within the next few weeks.  He also stated that the Standards Exchange of experts also considered this continuous progress reporting on standards complaints to be good practice.

Resolved – That the report be noted.