Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Thursday, 13th June, 2013 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: G Lunnun (The Office of the Chief Executive)  Tel: 01992 564244 Email:  glunnun@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Substitute Members

(Deputy Monitoring Officer) To report the attendance of any substitute members for the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no substitute members present at the meeting.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 44 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 28 March 2013.

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

            That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 28 March 2013 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

3.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made pursuant to the Council’s Code of Conduct for Members.

4.

Standards Committee Membership

(Deputy Monitoring Officer) To note members of the District Council appointed to serve at its annual Council meeting are as shown on the agenda.

 

To welcome Councillors R. Cohen and J Lea to their first meeting of the Committee.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the membership of the Committee for 2013/14 and pointed out that Councillors R Cohen and J Lea had not previously been members of the Committee.

5.

Independent Persons

(Deputy Monitoring Officer) To note that this is the last meeting to be attended  by Jason Guth as Independent Person. He is required to relinquish this role by Government Regulations on 30 June 2013.

 

To note that Kim Adams, who was previously appointed as reserve, has indicated that he intends to take up the position from 1 July 2013.

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that this would be the last meeting of the Committee attended by Jason Guth as an Independent Person as, together with all other former Independent Members of Standards Committees, he was required to relinquish his involvement in the Committee on 30 June 2013 by virtue of Government Regulations.

 

The Chairman, the Monitoring Officer and Councillors Stallan and Pond paid tribute to Jason’s service on the Committee.

 

Jason thanked members and the Monitoring Officer for their kind words.

 

The Chairman reminded the Committee that Kim Adams had previously been appointed as a reserve Independent Person and she asked him if he was willing to take on the full role from 1 July 2013.  He confirmed that he wished to do so and thanked the Committee for allowing him to be involved during the past year in a shadow capacity.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            That Kim Adams be appointed as a full Independent Person from 1 July 2013.

6.

Town and Parish Council Representation

Recommendations:

 

(1)     To welcome town and parish council representatives; and

 

(2) To consider representation arrangements for Abbess, Beauchamp &  Berners Roding Parish Council

 

(Deputy Monitoring Officer) Since the last meeting, agreement has been reached as follows on the non-voting members to represent the six parish councils affiliated to this Committee:

 

Sheering/Matching PC - Councillor Richard Morgan (shared)

 

Roydon/Epping Upland - Councillor Janet Whybrow (Roydon) and Councillor John Barber (EU)

 

Chigwell/Willingale - Councillor R. Alvin (Chigwell)

 

Representation for Roydon/Epping Upland PCs will alternate at each meeting between the two individuals.

 

Abbess, Beauchamp & Berners Roding Parish Council now wishes to affiliate to this Committee. It is suggested that, as the Parish Council adjoins Willingale PC, it should be represented by Councillor Alvin provided this is acceptable to all three Councils.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed parish council representatives, Councillors R Morgan and Ms J Whybrow to the meeting.

 

The Committee noted that Sheering and Matching Parish Councils would be represented at meetings by Councillor Morgan and Chigwell and Willingale Parish Councils by Councillor Alvin.  In relation to the Roydon and Epping Upland Parish Councils, it had been suggested that Councillor Whybrow, a member of Roydon Parish Council, would alternate at each meeting with Councillor Barber, a member of the Epping Upland Parish Council.  However, the Epping Upland Parish Council had indicated that they wished to have their own representative at all meetings.

 

Members were informed that the Abbess, Beauchamp and Berners Roding Parish Council had now stated that it wished to affiliate to this Committee and it had been suggested that as that Parish Council adjoined Willingale Parish Council it should be represented by Councillor Alvin provided that this was acceptable to the three Councils he would represent.

 

Members gave further consideration to Town and Parish Council non-voting representation on the Committee taking account of the possibility of further Parish and Town Councils indicating a desire to affiliate to the Committee.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            (1)        That for the remainder of the current municipal year the non-voting members representing the Parish Councils affiliated to this Committee be as follows:

 

            Councillor R Morgan (representing Matching and Sheering Parish Councils);

 

            Councillor J Barber (representing Epping Upland Parish Council);

 

            Councillor Ms J Whybrow (representing Roydon Parish Council);

 

            Councillor R Alvin (representing Chigwell and Willingale Parish Councils and, subject to (2) below, Abbess, Beauchamp and Berners Roding Parish Council);

 

            (2)        That agreement be sought from the Chigwell, Willingale and Abbess, Beauchamp and Berners Roding Parish Councils to Councillor Alvin representing the Abbess, Beauchamp and Berners Roding Parish Council on the Committee as well as the other two Parish Councils; and

 

            (3)        That the Parish and Town Council non-voting representation on the Committee be reviewed at the first meeting of the Committee in the municipal year 2014/15 in the light of any additional requests for affiliation to the Committee.

7.

Parish & Town Councils - Affiliation to Standards Committee and Adoption of Codes of Conduct and Complaints Procedures pdf icon PDF 39 KB

(Deputy Monitoring Officer) To note the schedule (attached) of decisions by Parish and Town Councils concerning Standards Committee affiliation and adoption of codes of conduct/complaints procedures.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer presented a schedule of decisions taken by Parish and Town Councils regarding Standards Committee affiliation and adoption of Codes of Conduct and Complaints Procedures.

 

She expressed thanks to District Council ward members, especially Councillors A Boyce and H Brady, for their assistance in achieving a high level of compliance with the requirements.  She pointed out that having studied the complaints procedure adopted by the High Ongar Parish Council, it mirrored the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) model and was not one drawn up by the Parish Council itself.

 

The Committee noted that those Parish Councils yet to make decisions were giving active consideration to the requirements.

8.

Code of Conduct, Planning Protocol and Introduction to Planning - Training pdf icon PDF 21 KB

(Deputy Monitoring Officer) To note details of a training course to be held on 15 June 2013 on an Introduction to Planning, the Code of Conduct and Planning Protocol.

 

District and Parish Councillors together with independent persons have been invited to this event.  The session on the Planning Protocol is planned to be an open forum to establish concerns about the current protocol with a view to a revised version being prepared. This is a task which will fall to this Committee.

 

A copy of the course programme is attached, together with an advisory planning probity guide produced by the LGA which will be used as a part of the planning protocol session on the course.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer reported that as a result of a mains drinking water pipe bursting considerable damage and disruption had been caused to a large part of the Civic Offices.  She advised that as a result the training scheduled to take place on Saturday 15 June 2013 on the Code of Conduct, the Planning Protocol and an Introduction to Planning had been cancelled due to the need to test systems and move back and reconnect equipment to the affected offices following temporary relocation arrangements to other parts of the building.

 

The Monitoring Officer also pointed out that there had been a poor response to the invitation to attend the training.  She advised that as well as the 58 District Councillors, all Members and Clerks of the 24 Parish and Town Councils had been invited to attend but only 13 Members and Clerks had signified their attendance.

 

The Committee discussed steps which could be taken in an attempt to achieve a better attendance when the training course was re-scheduled.  Differing views were expressed on the days and times favoured for the training sessions and the formats.  It was suggested that when re-advertising the course on Current Issues in Planning, emphasis should be placed on all members attending in view of the on-going preparation of the Local Plan.

 

The Committee was advised that the session on the Planning Protocol had been planned to be an open forum to establish concerns about the current Protocol with a view to a revised version being prepared and considered by this Committee.  The attention of the Committee was drawn to a Local Government Association/Planning Advisory Service publication “Probity in Planning for Councillors and Officers” which could be used with local amendment as the basis for a new Planning Protocol.

 

The Committee agreed that the Local Government Association/Planning Advisory Service document could be used as a basis for a new Planning Protocol but drew attention to matters included therein which were not acceptable.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            (1)        That the officers reschedule the proposed training on the Code of Conduct, the Planning Protocol and Current Issues in Planning taking account of the views expressed by members of this Committee and other councillors;

 

(2)               That the suggestion in the Local Government Association/Planning Advisory Service document that Planning Committees before making a decision on a planning application which differs from the officer recommendation should adjourn for a few minutes to discuss the reasons for doing so be not supported and not included in any draft Planning Protocol; and

 

(3)      That references in any draft Planning Protocol to the registration and disclosure of interests be consistent with the wording and the requirements of registration forms.

9.

Allegations Made about the Conduct of District and Parish/Town Councillors pdf icon PDF 22 KB

(Monitoring Officer) To consider the attached schedule showing the current position of active cases.

Minutes:

The Committee received a schedule regarding an allegation made about the conduct of two Parish Councillors.  The Monitoring Officer reported that on 10 June 2013 the matter had been considered at a hearing arranged by the Joint Parish Standards Committee.  The two members had been found in breach of the Code of Conduct and the full decision would be published on the District Council and the Nazeing Parish Council websites.

 

The Committee noted that with the conclusion of that complaint there were currently no outstanding formal complaints.

10.

Dates of Future Meetings

(Monitoring Officer) The calendar for 2013/14 provides for meetings of the Committee on 12 September 2013, 12 December 2013 and 13 March 2014.

 

Additional meetings can be arranged as and when required by the Committee.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the Council’s adopted calendar for 2013/14 provided for meetings on 12 September 2013, 12 December 2013 and 13 March 2014.

 

The Committee noted that additional meetings could be arranged as and when required.

11.

Exclusion of Public and Press

To consider whether, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press should be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on grounds that they will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraph(s) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act indicated:

 

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

 

Allegations Made About the conduct of District and Parish/Town Councillors – Issues Arising

1

To resolve that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during the consideration of the following items which are confidential under Section 100(A)(2) of the Local Government Act 1972:

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Nil

Nil

 

Paragraph 9 of the Council Procedure Rules contained in the Constitution require:

 

(1)       All business of the Council requiring to be transacted in the presence of the press and public to be completed by 10.00 p.m. at the latest.

 

(2)       At the time appointed under (1) above, the Chairman shall permit the completion of debate on any item still under consideration, and at his or her discretion, any other remaining business whereupon the Council shall proceed to exclude the public and press.

 

(3)       Any public business remaining to be dealt with shall be deferred until after the completion of the private part of the meeting, including items submitted for report rather than decision.

 

Background Papers:  Paragraph 8 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules of the Constitution define background papers as being documents relating to the subject matter of the report which in the Proper Officer's opinion:

 

(a)       disclose any facts or matters on which the report or an important part of the report is based;  and

 

(b)       have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information (as defined in Rule 10) and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

Inspection of background papers may be arranged by contacting the officer responsible for the item.

 

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that there were no issues which necessitated moving into private session.