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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms A and B, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

Items
No. Item

129.

Communications and Apologies

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

 

(b)            Apologies for absence.

Minutes:

The Chair was pleased to note all members of the Committee were present.

130.

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.  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:

Councillor Anita Gamble declared a personal interest in the decisions of the Referrals Sub Committee reported in Part 2.  

131.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 10 September 2009.

 

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 10 September 2009 were approved and signed as a correct record.

 

The Chair asked if actions agreed at the last meeting had been completed. The meeting was informed that Council had been advised of the views of this Committee on their Annual report and that Council Members had been advised of new arrangements for granting dispensations.

 

At the last meeting, in an attempt to raise the profile of this Committee, the Chair had asked members to communicate information on standards to their parishes and organisations. No member had done this and again the Chair asked Members to secure the publication of information on the work of the Standards Committee.

 

There had been discussion at the last meeting on the lack of clarity that had existed over use of the internal post system. The Head of Legal and Democratic Services reported that the concerns of the Committee had been brought to the attention of the Chief Executive.

132.

Adjudication Panel for England pdf icon PDF 74 KB

New arrangements came into force on 18 January 2010 which will see the Adjudication Panel for England unified into the tribunal structure.  The attached report details those changes.

Minutes:

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services presented report of officers ST/10/01, which advised that the work of the Adjudication panel had transferred into the unified tribunal structure and into the new General regulatory Chamber within the first-tier Tribunal.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in report ST/10/01 be noted.

133.

New Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 44 KB

The latest information on progress with the introduction of a revised code of Conduct is set out in the attached report.  

Minutes:

Report of Officers ST/10/02 was presented to the Committee by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services. The Committee noted that work on production of a new Code of Conduct was underway and that it was hoped to lay it before Parliament in the near future.

 

The Head also drew attention to information recently published by the Standards for England entitled “Freemasons and the Code of Conduct”; “The role and appointment of parish and town council representatives to the standards committee and the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008” and “Independent members”. Copies of these documents were circulated the Committee, who asked that the information on “Freemasons and the Code of Conduct” be circulated to all Members of the Council.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in the report of Officers ST/10/02 be noted.

 

134.

Provision of Information to Members pdf icon PDF 99 KB

The attached report provides advice on the availability to Members of information held by the Council. It also proposes that a protocol on dealing with requests for information be the subject of consultation with both Members and Officers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services introduced report ST/10/03 which detailed the regime governing the provision of information to members. The Committee noted that no member had a roving commission to view all documents held by Hertsmere. There were three general headings under which information is made available: the common law need to know; statutory provision to information relating to the business of the Council and Statutory Schemes. The report provided detailed information on each heading.

 

The Committee debated the proposed Protocol and suggested that:

 

-                             the explanation of the special role of certain position holders be removed.

-                             “Members will need to meet the ‘need to know’ test” be added to the protocol.  

-                             advice be added on the need for Members to deal responsibly with restricted information.

-                             when provided with confidential information, Members be advised to be mindful of the Code of Conduct.   

-                             the dividing line between the two points on the protocol be removed.

 

The meeting noted that it was intended to undertake consultation on the Protocol with both Members and Officers, before it was put Council for approval.

 

RESOLVED that, prior to consultation, the protocol be re-written in line with the changes listed above.

135.

Members' Induction pdf icon PDF 80 KB

The election of one third of Members to Hertsmere Council will take place in May. The attached report sets out the principles of the arrangements that will be made for an explanation of Council activities, practices and procedures to the new Members.   

Minutes:

Report ST/10/04 was introduced by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services, who pointed out that the new ideas listed in this report would supplement the induction process. It was intended to provide this Committee with a full copy of the induction programme at their next meeting.

 

The Committee discussed the suggestions contained in the report and asked that a sheet explaining the jargon terms used by the Council be provided to new members. One proposal of the report was to ask if experienced retiring Members would be willing to meet with new Members to help them become familiar with life as a Councillor. The Chair wondered if disaffected members would provide appropriate advice asked that, if used, there be no selection of Members asked to participate. The Committee wanted responsibility for the suggested buddy system to lie within each political group.

 

It was proposed that a Hertsmere meeting be videoed for training purposes but there was concern over the cost and benefit of training by this method. Election candidates would be advised of meeting dates before the election so that they could see for themselves how Council business was conducted. There would also be training on procedures at Committee as part of the induction process.

 

The Chair asked that training for new member on standards matters be provided early in the induction programme and that standards issues be embedded in all relevant induction training.

 

RESOLVED that the outline arrangements for the induction of new Councillors elected in May 2010 be noted and account be taken of the suggestions detailed above.

136.

Complaints Process pdf icon PDF 71 KB

This report presents a complaint process for the Committee’s approval.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services introduced report of Officers ST/10/06, that set out an explanation and a flow chart representation of the complaint process.

 

The Committee made the following amendments to the proposed complaint process:

 

-                      point 8 to include the membership of the Review Committee

-                      point 8 to specify that the Chair of the relevant Sub Committee would sign the decision letter and minutes.

-                      point 11 to provide an explanation of the role of the hearing Sub Committee.

-                      point 12 to be amended so that decisions, not minutes are submitted to the Standards Committee.

-                      the arrangements for confirmation of Sub Committee minutes be clarified.

 

The Chair proposed that the Complaints and Investigation Working Party be reconvened to look again at the text explaining the complaint process and flow chart.

 

RESOLVED that the Complaints and Investigation Working Party be reconvened to consider further the text explaining the complaint process and flow chart.

 

 

137.

Lessons Learnt - Action Arising from Previous Complaint

Minutes:

The Committee noted that this heading related to the use of the internal post system and that it had been dealt with earlier in the meeting.

138.

Decisions of the Referrals Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 70 KB

This reports provides information on the number and outcome of complaints considered by the Referrals Sub-Committee of the Standards Committee.

Minutes:

Prior to the commencement of consideration of this item, Councillor Gamble left the meeting.

 

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services introduced report of Officers ST/10/05 which provided information on the outcome of consideration by the Referrals Sub Committee of two complaints made since the last meeting of this Committee. The Committee noted that in both cases no breach of the Code of Conduct had been found.

 

The Committee asked that a tabular format be used in future when reporting this information.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in report of Officers ST/10/05 be noted.

 

139.

Any other non confidential business which the Chair considers urgent.

Minutes:

Referral Sub Committee

 

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services informed the meeting that the proposed date of 25 February for a meeting of the Referral Sub Committee would be required.

 

A Member of the Committee pointed out that participation in the work of this Sub Committee should be shared. Mr Boyes and Mrs McNulty indicated that they wished to serve and were free on 25 February.

 

Noted

 

Declarations of Interest

 

The Chair reminded Members of their responsibility to ensure their declaration of interests were up to date. The Democratic Services Manager undertook to provide Members with a form and Members were asked to submit a type written form which would allow it to be uploaded and read on line.  

 

The Chair asked that an item be included on their next agenda on advice to Members on declaring heir interest and for Standards Committee Members to be reminded about updating their interest when Councillors are.

140.

Date of Next Meeting

The next scheduled meeting of the Committee will take place on Monday 12 April 2010 at the Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood.

 

Minutes:

Noted that the next meeting of this Committee will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, 12 April 2010.

141.

Exclusion of the Public

Recommendation that, under S100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I, Schedule 12A to the said Act:-

 

Part II Agenda Item                                                 Paragraphs in

Schedule 12A

 

Decisions of the Referrals                                             7C

Sub-Committee

Minutes:

Recommendation that, under S100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I, Schedule 12A of the said Act:-

 

Part II Agenda Item                                Paragraphs in

                                                    Schedule 12A

 

Decisions of the Referral                                  7C

Sub Committee.                   

 

142.

Decisions of the Referrals Sub-Committee

Further to Report of Officers ST/10/05 at item 10 in part I of the agenda, this report provides detailed information on the complaints considered by the Referrals Sub-Committee.

Minutes:

Report of Officers ST/10/07 was introduced to the Committee by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services.

 

The Chair asked that in future a separate report be submitted on each case. She then asked for an explanation of the process followed in respect of one case and, having noted the reply, clarified that the Committee expected to be informed of all actions taken on a compliant.

 

RESOLVED that the information detailed in report of Officers ST/10/05 be noted.