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Agenda

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

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Items
No. Item

1.

Communications and Apologies

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

 

(b)            Apologies for absence.

2.

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).

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 September 2010.

 

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

 

Additional documents:

4.

Standards Committee and the Localism Bill pdf icon PDF 667 KB

Part V of the Localism Bill contains provision (Clauses 14 to 20) and certain schedules to deal with the standards regime

 

- Clause 14 of the Bill abolishes the current Standards Regime. The Standards Board for England, the role of the First Tier tribunal in relation to standards in local government and codes of conduct for councillors are all abolished. None of the functions of the Standards Board for England are retained.

 

- Clause 15 of the Bill places a duty on all local authorities to ensure that elected and co-opted members maintain high standards of conduct. This is a new duty placed on all principal authorities

 

- Clause 16 allows local authorities to adopt a voluntary code of conduct for members. If an allegation of a breach of a code is made in writing the authority must make a decision on whether or not to investigate the allegation and, if it is considered that an investigation is appropriate, investigate “in such manner as [the authority] thinks fit”.

 

- Clause 17 provides for the establishment and maintenance of a register of members’ interests. The Secretary of State will be given power to specify what should be included in the register. These regulations may make provision for the imposition of restrictions on members on taking part in a debate or decision where they have declared a related interest. The regulations may require the register to be made available to the public and may allow the redaction of sensitive information from it.

 

- Clause 18 makes it a criminal offence to fail, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the requirements of clause 17. The proposed penalty is a fine of up to £5,000 and an order disqualifying the person from membership of a relevant body for up to five years. Prosecutions are only to be brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

 

- Clause 19 deals with Police Authorities.

 

    - Clause 20 gives the Secretary of State power to make transitional provisions in relation to the abolition of the Standards Board for England.

 

    The second reading of the Bill took place on the 17th January 2011 and any updates will be reported to the Committee. The Bill is not likely to pass into law before the autumn of 2011. It is understood that the Secretary of State will take steps early in the New Year to curtail standards committee powers; in particular, the power to suspend councillors is likely to be withdrawn. The intention is to allow councils only to censure councillors guilty of misconduct or to require training. The proposals for electoral recall, which would have allowed the removal of councillors mid-term, were not included in the Bill.

    

 Clearly these changes will have a fundamental impact on the Standards regime as we know it. The question for tonight's Standards Committee is how it should respond to these changes. The following questions have been suggested to help the Committee decide on the way ahead:

 

                    - How do we discharge  ...  view the full agenda text for item 4.

Additional documents:

5.

Any other non-confidential business which the Chairman considers urgent

In accordance with S100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, amended by the Access to Information Act of 1985, no urgent business may be raised unless it has been approved by the Chairman.  The item and reason for urgency must be announced at the start of the meeting.