Standards Committee 21 March 2018

Chairman:  Councillor Poole
Venue:  Function Room 1, Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
Time:  2 pm
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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 24 January 2018 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
4.       Assessment Panel Proceedings – To receive and where necessary confirm the minutes of the meeting of the panel held on 9 February 2018.
5.       Local Government Ethical Standards: Stakeholder Consultation
6.       Complaints Schedule – Update.
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: Governance & Partnerships unless otherwise stated.


PRESENT: –  Councillor Poole (in the Chair).

Councillors England (Vice-Chairman), Collinson, T Foster, O’Sullivan, and Wells

W Harvie – Co-opted (Non-voting) Member.

The committee met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe

206     DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR  PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interests made at the meeting.

207     MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committee held on 24 January 2018, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.

208     ASSESSMENT PANEL PROCEEDINGS – Resolved – That the minutes of the meetings of the Assessment Panel held on 9 February 2018 be received.

209   (10) LOCAL GOVERNMENT ETHICAL STANDARDS: STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION – The Director: Governance and Partnerships submitted a report summarising a recently published consultation document produced by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (the Committee) initiating a review of local government ethical standards. The Committee emphasised that robust standards arrangements were needed to safeguard local democracy, maintain high standards of conduct, and to protect ethical practice in local government. As part of this review, the Committee was holding a public stakeholder consultation. The consultation was open from 12:00 on Monday 29 January 2018 and closed at 17:00 on Friday 18 May 2018.

The terms of reference for the review were to:

  1. Examine the structures, processes and practices in local government in England for:

a.   Maintaining codes of conduct for local councillors;
b.  Investigating alleged breaches fairly and with due process
c.  Enforcing codes and imposing sanctions for misconduct;
d.  Declaring interests and managing conflicts of interest; and
e.  Whistleblowing.

2.  Assess whether the existing structures, processes and practices are conducive to high standards of conduct in local government;

3.  Make any recommendations for how they can be improved; and

4.  Note any evidence of intimidation of councillors, and make recommendations for any measures that could be put in place to prevent and address such intimidation.

The review would consider all levels of local government in England, including town and parish councils, principal authorities, combined authorities (including Metro Mayors) and the Greater London Authority (including the Mayor of London. The Committee encouraged all relevant councils to submit response where possible in relation to several questions set out in the consultation document. (Submissions would be published online alongside the Committee’s final report, with any contact information (for example, email addresses) removed.

The Monitoring Officer referred members to and explained the context of the questions asked by the Committee and the Chairman invited comments and thoughts from all members.

Mr J Goolden, Independent Person had submitted his comments on the Committee’s consultation questions for members’ information and consideration.

The Standards Committee agreed in principal that the following should be included in a draft response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life –

  • A sanction to include the power to suspend for up to 3 months, with a right of appeal (and if appealed any period of suspension applied to commence after completion of the appeal);
  • Consideration of effectiveness and application of sanctions if councillors live abroad;
  • Encourage annual member training on ethical standards;
  • Highlight local practice and the value of consulting and involving the Independent Person during all assessments of complaints as well as subsequent hearings stages;
  • Highlight the advantages of using a ‘Mediation Scheme’ as adopted locally, and
  • Consideration of possible application of safeguards by the police to prevent and investigate intimidation towards councillors (including the use of social media).

Resolved – (a) That the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the chairman and Independent Persons, draft a response on behalf of the Standards Committee incorporating its comments above and submit it to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and (b) that the response be circulated to all members of the Standards Committee.

210  (11) COMPLAINTS SCHEDULE – The Director: Governance and Partnerships submitted a report updating the committee on progress made with complaints received.

It was confirmed that all complaints to date had been completed in accordance with the council’s published Standards Arrangements.

Resolved – That the report be noted.