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Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Susan Hardy 

Items
No. Item

605.

Communications and Apologies

(a)            Communications (if any) relating to business on the agenda.

 

(b)            Apologies for absence.

Minutes:

The Chairman referred members of the Committee to some information from the Standards Board comprising a checklist for local authorities to consider in the run up to the implementation of the locally managed framework on 1 April 2008, copies of which had been circulated at the meeting.

 

Apologies for absence had been received from Parish Councillor Glazer and Mr Kumar.

606.

Declarations of Interest (if any)

Members must clearly state the nature of the interest, and indicate whether it is Personal or Personal and Prejudicial.  The responsibility for declaring an interest rests solely with the Member concerned.

 

Personal interests: A personal interest arises in relation to any matter which might reasonably be regarded as affecting, to a greater extent than other Council Tax payers, ratepayers or inhabitants of the authority’s area, the well‑being or financial position of the Member or of a relevant person.

 

Where that interest arises solely from membership of, or position of control or management on a body to which the Member has been appointed or nominated by the Council or another body exercising functions of a public nature then, provided they do not also have a prejudicial interest, Members need only declare a personal interest at a meeting when they address the meeting on that business.

 

Personal and Prejudicial interests: A Member has a personal and prejudicial interest in a matter if the interest is one which a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts would reasonably regard as so significant that it is likely to prejudice the Member’s judgement of the public interest.  In these cases the Member concerned must declare the interest and withdraw from the meeting room while the matter is being considered.  Members with such interests may, however, attend the meeting for the purpose of making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business where the public have a similar right.

 

Further details and full definitions of personal and prejudicial interests are set out in the Councillors’ Code of Conduct (Section 5.1 of the Constitution).

Minutes:

No members of the Committee had an interest to declare in any of the items on the agenda.

607.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 27 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 June 2007.

 

In accordance with the Constitution no discussion shall take place upon the minutes, except upon their accuracy.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 June 2007 were approved and signed as a correct record.

608.

Deputy Monitoring Officer

To note that the Council at its meeting on 14 November appointed Susan Hardy, Acting Democratic Services Manager, as Deputy Monitoring Officer.  This is an interim appointment pending the new Head of Legal and Democratic Services, Jill Coule, taking up her appointment on 11 February 2008.  It is intended that she will subsequently be designated Monitoring Officer for the authority and she will consider the permanent appointment of her Deputy.

Minutes:

The Committee was informed that the Acting Democratic Services Manager, Susan Hardy, had been appointed Deputy Monitoring Officer in an interim capacity, pending the new Head of Legal and Democratic Services taking up her appointment on 11 February 2008.  It was intended that the Head of Legal and Democratic Services would subsequently be designated Monitoring Officer for the authority and would consider the permanent appointment of her Deputy.  The Interim Head of Legal Services, David Raggatt, would continue to act as Monitoring Officer until that time.

609.

Local Assessment and Changes to Ethical Framework pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Report of Officers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Report of Officers ST/08/01 set out the implications of the new Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 which provided for the local consideration of allegations of misconduct relating to Councillors and co-opted members and put in place other changes relating to the ethical standards framework. 

 

The Chairman said that his understanding was that the majority of complaints would be dealt with locally and, accordingly, local Standards Committees should have a higher threshold than previously for passing on complaints to the Standards Board.  Whilst there had been only two and three complaints received in relation to this Council’s Members over the previous two years respectively, advertising of the process, in accordance with the new legislation, might allow for complaints to be made more easily.  It was envisaged that the Standards Board would be considering far fewer cases.  These might be limited to complaints about Chief Executives, for example, or large and complicated issues.  There might be cost implications for local authorities in that, at the local filtering stage, if a sub-committee decided there was a case to be heard, the complaint could be referred to the Monitoring Officer for consideration and training costs would also be incurred.  In addition, it was suggested, in the guidance available to date, that standards committees enter into joint working arrangements with other standards committees.

 

The Acting Democratic Services Manager reported that on Thursday, 3 January 2008, the Government had published a consultation paper on standards of conduct, which was currently available on the Communities and Local Government website and on which comments were sought by 15 February 2008.  The tabled checklist could also be found on the website.  With regard to standards committee member training, St Albans City and District Council had organised a training session on Thursday, 27 March 2008 at its council offices from 7.00pm to 9.30pm.  This Council had been offered a few places and members were asked to notify the Acting Democratic Services Manager if they wished to attend.

 

Members of the Committee discussed the report and studied the flow chart of complaint handling (appendix to the report refers) that formed part of the Standards Board’s pilot exercise.  Members welcomed the increased powers of the Standards Committee, whilst recognising that their main role was to deal with complaints expeditiously and discourage their proliferation.  It was agreed that the current practice, of organising sub-committee meetings on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, should be retained.  An independent member referred to report paragraph 7, Financial Implications, and asked whether the envisaged increased workloads would be matched by increased allowances.  The Chairman replied that this had already been anticipated and an application made to the Independent Remuneration Panel.  It was noted that any particular questions members might have could be raised with the trainer at St Albans on 27 March 2008.

 

With regard to the government consultation, the Acting Democratic Services Manager offered to send a copy of the document to all members of the Committee.  A response would then be prepared  ...  view the full minutes text for item 609.

610.

Training on New Code of Conduct

The Council adopted a new Code of Conduct for its members on 19 September 2007 as recommended by this Committee at its June meeting.  The Standards Board for England has produced a DVD which uses a fictional planning application dispute to illustrate the key changes to the revised Model Code on which the Council’s code is based.  The DVD examines the rules about declaring interests, disclosing confidential information and bullying.

 

The Standards Board has recommended that officers watch the DVD with Standards Committee members and use it as a tool for discussion on future code of conduct training.

Minutes:

The Council had adopted a new code of conduct for its Members on 19 September 2007.  The Standards Board for England had produced a DVD which used a fictional planning application dispute to illustrate the key changes to the revised Model Code on which the Council’s code was based.  The DVD examined the rules about declaring interests, disclosing confidential information and bullying.  The Standards Board had recommended that Officers watch the DVD with Standards Committee members and use it as a tool for discussion on future code of conduct training. 

 

RESOLVED that the content of the DVD be noted.