Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Monday, 13th June, 2016 5.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions

Contact: Ema Dearsley  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chairman

To confirm the appointment of Councillor Michael Goodridge as Chairman of the Standards Panel for the Council Year 2016-17.

Minutes:

Councillor Michael Goodridge was confirmed as Chairman of the Standards Panel for the Council Year 2016/17.

2.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

 

Minutes:

There were apologies received from Councillors Kevin Deanus and David Else.  

3.

Disclosure of Interests

To receive from members, declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting in accordance with the Waverley Code of Local Government Conduct.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL

Background Papers

 

Unless specified under an individual item, there are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to the reports in Part I of these minutes.

 

4.

Review of Complaints to the Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 65 KB

[Portfolio Holder: Cllr Julia Potts]

[Wards Affected: All]

 

The Council adopted a new Code of Conduct at its meeting in July 2012 and reviewed its operation and updated the Code at its meeting in July 2013. The Monitoring Officer last reported to the Panel in January 2015 and this report updates the Panel, and also asks the Panel to recommend to the Council whether or not the Code should be reviewed.

 

Recommendation

 

That the Standards Panel

 

1.    Receives the report and to make observations on it to the Monitoring Officer.

 

2.    Decides if a review of the Code and arrangements for investigation is appropriate and to recommend to the Council accordingly.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received an update on complaints received by the Monitoring Officer since it had last met in January 2015. The report also asked the Panel to consider whether to recommend to the Council that the Code should be reviewed since it was last updated in July 2013.

 

The Panel was advised that since it had last met, the Monitoring Officer had dealt with two complaints about Parish Councillors and in five further cases involving Parish Councillors a more detailed initial investigation had been carried out. The Councillors who were the subject of the complaint were interviewed and the views of the Independent Persons sought on the action proposed in accordance with the Council’s processes.

 

The Panel was advised that a further two cases received since it had last met had involved both Parish/Town Councillors and Waverley Councillors and had related to planning matters. Two further cases had involved a planning matter. In these four cases the advice of one of the Council’s Independent Persons had been sought. In two cases the Monitoring Officer had spoken to the Councillors involved. Both related to a potential conflict of interest with the Councillors business activities. In one case the Monitoring Officer had advised the Member to amplify their Register of Interests and in another administrative arrangements had been implemented to overcome any suggestion of a conflict of interest. In one case the Independent Person had agreed that the Code did not cover the subject of the complaint. One other case raised by two complainants related to a number of Councillors and one of the Independent Persons was currently considering this.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that there was a common pattern to the complaints, with main themes being interests, respect for others, predetermination or the process, and this was particularly relevant for planning. Members needed to ensure that their interests were complete and open and this would be reiterated at refresher training. 

 

The Panel noted that the Members’ Code of Conduct was last reviewed in July 2013 and it was suggested that it was appropriate to review again in light of examples that had come forward and advice that had been given. Members agreed that they should recommend to Council that a review of the Code should be undertaken to also include the planning code of good practice and the investigation arrangements.

 

The Panel agreed that the review of the Code should also consider a provision to define those interests which were not disclosable pecuniary interests or non-pecuniary interests, but which required Members to declare and possible excluse themselves from a matter where the public perception could consider that the interest was so significant that a member could be prejudiced because this was becoming a common matter for councillors to consider.

 

It was suggested that the Independent Persons should also be involved in this process and to offer their views on any changes, and also invited to attend the meeting of the Panel that would be considering the review.  

 

The Panel noted that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

PART II - MATTERS OF REPORT

The background papers relating to the following items are as set out in the reports included in the original agenda papers.

 

5.

To introduce the new Town and Parish Representatives to the Standards Panel

To introduce the new Town and Parish Representatives, Councillors Joan Holroyd and Richard Jameson, to the Standards Panel.

Minutes:

The two new Town and Parish representatives were introduced to the Panel; Councillors Joan Holroyd from Elstead Parish Council and Richard Jameson from Bramley Parish Council.