Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Thursday, 17th January, 2019 7.00 pm

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

Contact: S. Tautz (Democratic Services)  Tel: 01992 564180 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

27.

Independent Persons - Appointment

To welcome Antony Brooks and June Clare to membership of the Standards Committee as new Independent Persons. The Council formally ratified the appointment of Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Clare as Independent Persons at its meeting on 20 December 2018.

 

The Monitoring Officer will provide an induction presentation on the role and responsibilities of the Standards Committee and the Independent Persons.

 

 

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Anthony Brooks and June Clare to the meeting of the Committee as new Independent Persons and reported that the Council had formally ratified the appointment of Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Clare at its meeting on 20 December 2018. Members and officers of the Committee introduced themselves to the new Independent Persons.

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer provided an induction presentation on the role and responsibilities of the Standards Committee and the Independent Persons.

 

28.

Substitute Members

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

Minutes:

The Committee was advised that Councillor J. Philip was attending the meeting as a substitute for Councillor S. Kane.

29.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 19 July 2018.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 19 July 2018 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record, subject to the inclusion of D. Cooper (Independent Person) and Councillor J. Whybrow (Roydon Parish Council) in the report of members that had presented apologies for absence from the meeting.

 

30.

Declarations of Interest

(Director of Governance) To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

No interests were declared in any item on the agenda, pursuant to the Council’s Code of Conduct.

 

31.

Conduct of District & Parish/Town Councillors pdf icon PDF 50 KB

(Monitoring Officer) To consider the attached schedule showing the current position of active cases concerning the conduct of district and parish/town councillors.

Minutes:

The Deputy 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 4/2018) had been completed following issue to the Independent Person for review, but that the recommendations of the Monitoring Officer had not been accepted by the councillor subject of the complaint. The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported that this case had therefore now been referred for investigation.

 

Members noted that the remaining case (Case 1/2019) was currently at the initial stage of the assessment process.

32.

Standards Committee - Training Requirements

To consider any additional training requirements necessary to support the effective management and operation of the standards function and responsibilities.

Minutes:

The Committee considered whether any additional training requirements were necessary to support the effective management and operation of the standards function and responsibilities.

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported that training in respect of the Council’s Code of Conduct was generally provided on two occasions in each municipal year, as part of the Council’s member development programme. The Committee noted that, wherever possible, attendance at Code of Conduct training sessions was extended to representatives of local councils.

 

The Committee was advised that the training session due to have been held during October 2018 had had to be cancelled and that the participation of  five members remained outstanding during their current term of office. The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported that further efforts would be made to secure the participation of the outstanding members at future training sessions.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)        That the status of the training of members on the Code of Conduct be reviewed further by the Committee at its next meeting; and

 

(2)        That the Monitoring Officer be requested to investigate opportunities for the delivery of training in respect of the Council’s Code of Conduct through web-based or other interactive means, to support increased participation in such training and full understanding of the requirements of the Code.

33.

Dates of Future Meetings

The Council has agreed (Minute 12 - 26 April 2016) that the Standards Committee be convened to meet only when there is business to be transacted and no meetings are therefore scheduled for the remainder of the current municipal year.

 

At the request of the Chairman, the Committee is requested to identify provisional arrangements for future meetings during 2019/20, in order that these can be accommodated within the calendar of meetings for the municipal year.

Minutes:

Members were reminded that the Council had agreed that meetings of the Committee be convened to meet only when there was business to be transacted and no meetings were therefore scheduled for the remainder of the current municipal year.

 

At the request of the Chairman, the Committee considered whether provisional arrangements should be made for future meetings to be held during 2019/20, in order that these could be accommodated within the calendar of meetings for the municipal year, which was shortly to be considered by the Cabinet.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Deputy Monitoring Officer identify potential dates for meetings of the Committee to be held during September 2019 and March 2020, in consultation with the Chairman.

 

34.

Any Other Business

Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 requires that the permission of the Chairman be obtained, after prior notice to the Chief Executive, before urgent business not specified in the agenda (including a supplementary agenda of which the statutory period of notice has been given) may be transacted.

Minutes:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported that Nathalie Boateng, the Council’s new Monitoring Officer, had recently commenced work with the authority as the Service Manager (Legal Services), as part of a shared service arrangement with Broxbourne Borough Council. Members noted that its was intended that Ms. Boateng would attend future meetings of the Committee.

 

The Chairman advised the Committee that, as part of the recent recruitment process for the appointment of new Independent Persons, proposals were being discussed with neighbouring local authorities for the possible ‘sharing’ of Independent Persons so that other councils could call on the expertise of those individuals in respect of relevant standards or Code of Conduct matters.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Monitoring Officer be requested to report to a future meeting of the Committee with regard to:

 

(a)       any arrangements for the sharing of costs relating to shared Independent Person support provided to other local authorities; and

 

(b)       the likely level of commitment required by the Council’s Independent Persons, in terms of the provision of shared support to other local authorities.

 

35.

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

11

Conduct of District and Parish/Town 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.