Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Thursday, 19th July, 2018 5.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

Contact: S. Tautz Tel: 01992 564180  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

17.

Substitute Members

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

Minutes:

The Committee was advised that the following substitute members had been appointed for the meeting:

 

(a)       Councillor D. Sunger for Councillor S. Kane; and

(b)       Councillor L. Burrows for Councillor J. Share-Bernia.

18.

Independent Person - Mr. P. Adams

To report and mark the recent passing of the Standards Committee Independent Person, Mr. Peter Adams.

 

Mr. Adams had been one of the Independent Persons since 2012.

Minutes:

 

Members paid tribute to the memory of Peter Adams, who had served as an Independent Person on the Standards Committee since 2012.

 

19.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 73 KB

(Monitoring Officer) To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18 December 2017.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18 December 2017 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

20.

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.

21.

Monitoring Officer & Deputy Monitoring Officer - Appointment

(Monitoring Officer) To note that the Council, at its meeting in February 2018, appointed Simon Hill (Assistant Director (Governance)) as the Monitoring Officer. Pursuant to delegated powers given to the Monitoring Officer, Stephen Tautz (Democratic Services Manager) has been appointed as Deputy Monitoring Officer.

 

Mr. Hill will outline the work undertaken since his appointment and arrangements for the appointment of the Monitoring Officer under the Council’s proposed new management structure. 

Minutes:

The Committee was advised that, at its meeting on 22 February 2018, the Council had appointed S. Hill (Assistant Director (Governance)) as the Monitoring Officer, pending the appointment of a new Chief Executive in 2019. Members noted that, pursuant to the authority delegated to the Monitoring Officer, S. Tautz (Democratic Services Manager) had been appointed as Deputy Monitoring Officer.

 

The Monitoring Officer outlined the work that he had undertaken since his appointment, including the provision of member training on the Council’s Code of Conduct and the retention of external advice in respect of standards matters. Mr. Hill also advised the Committee of the arrangements for the appointment of the Monitoring Officer as part of the Council’s proposed new management structure. 

 

22.

Independent Persons - Appointment

Recommendations:

 

(1)  To discuss the ongoing requirement for Independent Persons and timing of any future recruitment;

 

(2)  That subject to (1) above, the Monitoring Officer be requested to undertake recruitment activity;

 

(3)  That the Chairman of the Committee, in consultation with the Monitoring Officer set up a selection panel of three members to shortlist and interview candidates and recommend their appointment to Council.

 

(Monitoring Officer) Following the recent passing of Peter Adams, Mr. David Cooper is now the sole Independent Person. Recruitment activity for the Standards Committee was last undertaken in 2012 and the Committee is asked to discuss the desirably of further recruitment to ensure continuity. If the Committee wishes to undertake further recruitment, members are also asked to consider the appropriate timing for such activity.

 

On the last occasion that recruitment activity was undertaken, an interview panel, formed from members of the Standards Committee shortlisted and interviewed for the relevant positions.

 

The appointment of the Independent Persons is a matter for the Council to approve.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer reported that, following the recent death of Mr. P. Adams, Mr. D. Cooper was now the sole Independent Person on the Standards Committee and requested members to consider whether further recruitment activity should be undertaken for the appointment of up to two additional Independent Persons to ensure support for the responsibilities of the Committee and continuity in its work.

 

Members were advised that the recruitment of Independent Persons had last been carried out in 2012 and that, at that time, a panel of members of the Standards Committee had been established to shortlist and interview candidates for the relevant positions. The Monitoring Officer reminded the Committee that the formal appointment of Independent Persons was a matter reserved to the Council and that an appropriate role profile had previously been developed to ensure that candidates were qualified to discharge the functions of the Standards Committee.

 

The Monitoring Officer requested that the Committee consider the appropriate timing of the recruitment of new Independent Persons. Members noted that the Remuneration Panel was also currently carrying a vacancy, following the resignation of an independent member earlier in the year and that it would be sensible to undertake joint recruitment activity after the Summer period, to ensure that the appointment process was representative of local communities, particularly as some restrictions applied to the position of Independent Person.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the ongoing requirement for Independent Persons to support the responsibilities of the Committee, be endorsed;

 

(2)       That the Monitoring Officer undertake appropriate recruitment activity during September 2018, with a view to the appointment of two additional Independent Persons;

 

(3)       That the Chairman of the Committee, in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, establish a selection panel of three members of the Committee (pro-rata two members of the Conservative Group and one member of the Loughton Residents Association Group) to shortlist and interview candidates for the position of Independent Person and make recommendation for appointment to the Council, ideally at its meeting on 25 September 2018;

 

(4)       That the Monitoring Officer also form part of the selection panel of established to shortlist and interview candidates for the position of Independent Person, in a voting capacity; and

 

(5)       That, if possible, a further meeting of the Standards Committee be held prior to the appointment of Independent Persons by the Council, in order that candidates recommended for appointment by the selection panel have an opportunity to meet all members of the Committee.

 

23.

Code of Conduct Training - Update

(Monitoring Officer) To consider an update on the status of training of members on the Code of Conduct.

 

A training session was held on 10 July 2018 and an update will be given at the meeting on the outstanding members who require training.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer reported to the Committee on the current status of the training of members on the Council’s Code of Conduct.

 

The Committee was advised that a further training session had been held on 10 July 2018 and that the attendance of five members remained outstanding during their current term of office. The Monitoring Officer reported that further member training on the Code of Conduct was due to provided during October 2018 and that efforts would be made to secure the participation of the outstanding members at this session.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the status of the training of members on the Code of Conduct be reviewed further by the Committee, after the additional training session to be held in October 2018.

 

 

24.

Conduct of District & Town/Parish Councillors - Allegations pdf icon PDF 53 KB

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

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer reported to the Committee with regard to the receipt of new allegations concerning the conduct of District, Town or Parish Councillors and progress with regard to the investigation and assessment of such allegations.

 

The Committee noted that, of the outstanding allegations, the assessment of one case (Case 3/2018) had been completed and was to be issued to the Independent Person for review, and that the remaining cases (Case 4/2018 and 5/2018) were currently at various stages of the assessment process.

 

The Monitoring Officer reported that it had not been necessary to convene the Standards Complaint Sub-Committee appointed at the last meeting, to consider Case 1/2017, as this matter had been resolved through the identification of appropriate training. The Monitoring Officer indicated however that it was intended that the hearings process for the Sub-Committee would be reviewed by the Standards Committee later in the year.

 

Members were advised that the Monitoring Officer had identified a trend in the receipt of complaints concerning the conduct of District Councillors, made by officers of the Council and sought the support of the Committee in reducing the incidence of such behaviour. The Monitoring Officer advised that a separate procedure was in place for the submission of complaints concerning the conduct of officers of the Council.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the outstanding allegations made about the conduct of District, Town or Parish Councillors and the steps taken so far to assess and resolve these issues, be noted;

 

(2)       That procedures for hearings undertaken by the Standards Complaint Sub-Committee be reviewed by the Standards Committee as soon as possible; and

 

(3)       That the current procedure for the submission of complaints concerning the conduct of officers of the Council be considered at a future meeting of the Committee.

 

25.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion

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

12

Allegations made about the conduct of District and Town/Parish Councillors - Issues Arising

1

 

Background Papers

Article 17 of the Constitution (Access to Information) 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 and does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

The Council will make available for public inspection one copy of each of the documents on the list of background papers for four years after the date of the meeting. Inspection of background papers can be arranged by contacting either the Responsible Officer or the Democratic Services Officer for the particular item.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there were no issues arising from allegations made about the conduct of District, Town or parish Councillors that necessitated the exclusion of the public and press from the meeting.                                 

 

 

26.

Dates of Future Meetings

Following the decision of the Council that the Standards Committee be convened to meet only when there is business to be transacted (Minute 12 - 26 April 2016), no formal meetings of the Committee have been scheduled for the remainder of the municipal year. However, meetings of the Committee will be arranged during the year if required.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that no formal meetings had been scheduled during the current municipal year, following the decision of the Council at its meeting on 26 April 2016, that the Standards Committee should only meet as and when there was business to be transacted.

 

Members agreed that, if possible, a further meeting be held prior to the appointment of additional Independent Persons by the Council, in order that candidates recommended for appointment could have an opportunity to meet all members of the Committee.