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Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Susan Hardy 

Items
No. Item

684.

Communications and Apologies

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

 

(b)            Apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Hoeksma and Independent member Mr R Kumar.

685.

Declarations of Interest

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:

No Members had an interest declare under any of the items of business on the agenda.

686.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 34 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 6 October 2008.

 

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 6 October 2008 were approved and signed as a correct record subject to the deletion of the extraneous word “legal” in Minute 381 in the fifth line of the second paragraph under the sub-heading Indemnity Insurance.

687.

Local Assessment Framework - Update and Follow Up Work pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Report of Officers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report of Officers ST/09/01 provided an update on the progress with the local assessment regime and requested the Committee to review the assessment criteria in the light of experience.

 

Quarterly and Annual Return to the Standards Board for England

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that three quarterly returns as to the number of allegations of misconduct received by the Standards Committee had now been submitted to the Standards Board for England.  The Standards Board would be looking for trends and patterns emerging and giving advice to local standards committees.  It was early in the operation of the new regime for much to have emerged however the Standards Board was currently undertaking detailed consultation with a selected number of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committee Chairmen which may lead to further advice being issues. 

 

The Standards Board had also circulated a questionnaire seeking views on their operation and responses were sought by 16 February 2009.  The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that these had been circulated to a number of Councillors and independent members under the selection criteria provided by the Standards Board.

 

Assessment Criteria

 

It was considered that this was an opportune time to review the criteria used by the sub-committees in assessing allegations of misconduct now that they had practical experience of applying them to cases and following the issue of guidance from the Standards Board.  The Monitoring Officer considered that much of the content of the current criteria was more about the process rather that the criteria and sought the views of the members.

 

During discussion, the Committee considered that it would be preferable to separate out the process and the criteria.  In this way the information about how the process worked could be provided to the complainant and subject member and the sub-committee would have a checklist of criteria against which to judge the allegation.  Members advised that they found the commentary provided with the agenda papers as to which part of the Code were alleged to have been broken very helpful and asked that this be retained.

 

In response to a query as to whether the sub-committee could consider if the conduct the allegation they were assessing may have breached other parts of the Code than those identified, the Monitoring Officer advised that it could.  In addition, if the allegation was referred for investigation the investigator would report back if other issues had emerged.  It was confirmed that members of the public submitting allegations who would not be familiar with the Code of Conduct did not need to identify which part they considered had been broken.  However, in the case of a complaint from a Councillor the Committee agreed that they would expect them to identify the part of the Code alleged to have been breached as they should be familiar with its provisions.

 

The Monitoring Officer drew attention to an issue that had occurred which affected the timescale for reviews.  The decision notices for one of the first allegations had been sent by post but both the complainant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 687.

688.

Feedback from Standards Board Conference

The Monitoring Officer and the Chairman will provide feedback on the Standards Board Conference they attended in October 2008.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer and Committee Chairman expressed their disappointment with the value of attending the annual Standards Board Conference.  The numbers attending had been very high, largely as a result of the introduction of the new local assessment regime, however this had resulted in overlarge workshops and the content of the whole conference had been too thin.  The view from colleagues was that it would be better to have separate conferences for Monitoring Officers and Standards committee members.  Much of the discussion had stemmed from the Livingstone case and conduct when acting on behalf of the authority versus conduct in a Member’s private life.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that she would be attending a more technical conference the following week aimed specifically at Monitoring Officers which was highly recommended by her colleagues.  She would also be drawing up a programme of training for the new independent committee members tailored to their needs and would consider offering places to those in other authorities as well.

689.

Protocol on Member/Officer Relations pdf icon PDF 59 KB

The revised Protocol on Member/Officer Relations was approved by the Council on 21 January 2009 following consultation with Members and staff.  A copy is attached for information.  Training on the revised Protocol will be provided for all Members and Senior Officers.  It is anticipated that this training will be undertaken before the end of the 2008/09 municipal year and a date is currently being sought with an appropriate training provider.  The Standards Committee members will also be invited to attend.

Minutes:

The revised Protocol on Member/Officer Relations had been approved by the Council on 21 January 2009 following consultation with Members and staff.  The Monitoring Officer advised that the document was now more tightly drawn and she was seeking to raise its profile so that inappropriate behaviour did not give rise to future complaints from an officer.  She advised that training sessions on the revised Protocol for all Members and officers who had regular contact with Members had been arranged for Monday 30 March.  There would be two sessions and further would be organised if there was sufficient demand.  The Standards Committee members will also be invited to attend.

 

The Committee expressed disappointment that they had not had greater opportunity to be involved in the draft stage of the document.  The Monitoring Officer took on board the comments and advised that she was aiming to identify a programme of review of key documents and ensuring that adequate time for consultation was included. 

 

The Committee asked if the Protocol was drawn to the attention of new Councillors and staff.  The Monitoring Officer advised that training on the Protocol formed part of the induction for both.

690.

Dates of Meetings

The Audit Manager is currently reviewing the Council’s Whistle Blowing Policy and it will need to be considered by both the Standards Committee and the Audit Committee as part of the consultation process before formal approval by the Council.  It is anticipated that a draft will be available for mid June.  Members are requested to bring their diaries with them so that a date can be arranged for a meeting.

 

As indicated at the last meeting, regular meetings of the Committee have been scheduled as part of the calendar of meetings for the municipal year 2009/10.  The dates are as follows:

 

Thursday 10 September 2009

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Monday 12 April 2010

 

All the meetings will take place on at 6.00pm at the Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood.

Minutes:

The Committee was advised that a meeting would be required in June as part of the consultation on the review of the Council’s Whistle Blowing Policy and the Annual Governance Statement before they were formally approved.  It was agreed that the meeting be held on Tuesday 9 June 2009.

 

As indicated at the last meeting, Members were advised that regular meetings of the Committee had been scheduled as part of the calendar of meetings for the municipal year 2009/10.  The dates were as follows:

 

Thursday 10 September 2009

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Monday 12 April 2010

 

All the meetings would take place on at 6.00pm at the Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood.

691.

Exclusion of the Public

Recommendation that under S100A(4) 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

 

Update on position with            7A and C

current allegations of

            misconduct cases

Minutes:

RESOLVED 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 1, Schedule 12A to the said Act:

  

Part II Agenda item

Paragraphs in Schedule 12A

 

 

Update on Position of Current Allegations of Misconduct Cases

 

 

 

7A and C

 

                                               

692.

Update on Position of Current Allegations of Misconduct Cases

Oral update by the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer gave an update on the cases referred to her for investigation.  Reports were due back from the investigators shortly in two of the cases and meetings of the sub‑committees that had referred the cases would need to be convened for them to consider the reports and determine if a hearing was required.

 

During discussion, Members asked that the sub-committee members be kept advised of progress with the cases that they had referred so they were aware of the circumstances should there be any delay.  The Monitoring Officer undertook to ensure that this was done.  Concern was expressed at the time taken for one of the investigations to be concluded.  The Monitoring Officer explained the reasons for the delay, which were outside her control but confirmed that she had instructed the investigator to conclude them as soon as possible.