Standards Committee – 16 September 2020
Chairman: Councillor Poole
Venue: Virtual Meeting Microsoft Teams
Time: 2.00 pm
E- Mail Address: email@example.com
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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 of the Standards Committee held on 9 July 2020 and the Standards Committee – Assessment Panel held on 29 July 2020 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
4. Local Government Association Draft Code of Conduct Update.
5. Complaints Schedule – Update.
6. 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 Allcock, Bainbridge, O’Sullivan, Robinson, Wells and Yeadon.
Mr T Forbes and Mr R Johnson – Independent Persons
The committee met via MS Teams
302 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY, PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations made at the meeting.
303 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of this committee held on 9 July 2020, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
304 ASSESSMENT PANEL PROCEEDINGS – Resolved – That the minutes of the meetings of the Assessment Panel held on 29 July 2020 be received.
305 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION (LGA) DRAFT CODE OF CONDUCT UPDATE – Further to minute 293, the Director: Governance and Partnerships submitted a report updating the Committee on progress following the ending of the LGA’s consultation exercise on its draft Code of Conduct and related issues. The Committee had submitted a response to the LGA’s consultation on 21 July 2020, which had been shared with all North Lincolnshire Town and Parish councils who had also been encouraged to respond to the LGA as part of the consultation process.
The report stated that the LGA had recently confirmed that it intended to consider the results of the consultation exercise and produce a final draft Code of Conduct for review by its Executive Advisory Board before being presented to the LGA General Assembly this Autumn.
One of the rather surprising proposals included by the LGA in its draft Code of Conduct was that local authorities should have in place an appropriate appeals process to enable members to appeal allegations and decisions; no mention was made though over whether complainants should be afforded equivalent rights. This Council’s current Standards Arrangements do not include a right of appeal for either members or complainants and at its last meeting the Committee requested the Monitoring Officer to consider this particular aspect and report back to the Committee.
The Director in her report explained that under the Localism Act 2011 there was no strict requirement that local authorities included an appeal process within their standards arrangements. Moreover, guidance at the time encouraged local authorities to adopt a ‘light and proportionate touch’ in developing their standards arrangements.
Accordingly, research undertaken by the Monitoring Officer indicated that very few local authorities had an appeals process in their standards arrangements and those that did only allowed appeals to be brought on limited grounds such as procedural failing, irrationality or new evidence coming to light that might have a significant bearing on the case.
Also, at this stage it was not known whether, following the consultation exercise, the LGA would carry-forward into its final Code of Conduct the requirement to have in place an appropriate appeals process. It was therefore proposed that further work on the introduction of an appeals process be deferred until the LGA produced its final Code of Conduct with accompanying guidance whereupon the position may be reviewed thereafter by the Committee.
Resolved – (a) That the report be noted, and (b) that the proposal to defer further work on developing an appeals process until the LGA has produced its final Code of Conduct be approved.
306 COMPLAINTS SCHEDULE – The Director: Governance and Partnerships submitted a report updating the committee on progress made with complaints received.
The Director updated members on the complaints schedule, confirming the position in relation to three complaints SC/19/21, SC/20/01 and SC/20/03. The remainder of the schedule was up to date.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
307 MONITORING OFFICERS’ GROUP – INFORMAL SURVEY – The Head of Legal and Democracy and the Council’s Monitoring Officer informed the committee that a national Monitoring Officers Group he was a member of was carrying out an informal survey of local authority Standards Committees’ (and other committees) experiences of carrying out their roles and responsibilities during lockdown and currently through remote/virtual meeting platforms.
Members of the committee summarised their experiences, thoughts and future preferences for the effectiveness of business carried out by the committee and in general for other types of council committees, panels and boards.
The Monitoring Officer thanked the committee for its constructive and useful feedback.
Resolved – That the feedback be noted and used collectively within the informal survey.