Agenda and minutes
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To approve as correct the minutes of the meeting held on 29 November 2017
The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 29 November 2017 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Members' Interests
To receive any declarations of interest from Members of the Committee
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman of the Committee, the Chief Executive or the Monitoring Officer
The Chairman announced that Ann Maria Brown, Interim Monitoring Officer, would be leaving her role when the new Monitoring Officer, Sharon Evans, joins the Council on 9 April. The Chairman thanked Ann Maria for her support, guidance and assistance over the months. The Interim Monitoring Officer said she had enjoyed working with the Chairman and Members of the Committee.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life invites consultation responses to inform its review of local government ethical standards
The Interim Monitoring Officer presented the report on the Local Government Ethical Standards Stakeholder Consultation, which was being carried out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The Consultation ran from 29 January to 18 May 2018 and Members were invited to consider if it wished to respond. This review of Local Government Ethical Standards would be an opportunity for the Committee to submit its concerns regarding the current Standards Regime, in particular the lack of sanctions.
The report also updated the Committee on the DCLG Consultation on the Disqualification Criteria for Councillors and Mayors, which had been discussed at the previous meeting (Minute No. SC/21 (29.11.18) refers). Members noted the Consultation response submitted by the LGA (Local Government Association) on behalf of all local authorities.
Members also noted the new Ministerial Code, introduced by the Cabinet Office in January 2018, which set out the standards of conduct expected of Members of Parliament.
The Interim Monitoring Officer reminded Members of the background to the current Standards Regime, which had been established after the introduction of the Localism Act 2011. Significant changes had resulted in the abolition of the Standards Board for England, local authorities developing their own standards of conduct as well setting up their own regimes, together with a reduction in the number of sanctions available.
Members noted the terms of reference of the Local Government Ethical Standards Stakeholder Consultation and the Chairman invited comments and suggestions in response to the Consultation Questions as set out in Appendix 2 of the report as summarised below:
a) The existing structures, processes and practices were satisfactory.
c) Codes of Conduct – the current Code of Conduct used by HDC was considered satisfactory. The Committee noted that there was some variation in codes of conduct across the District and commented that having one County-wide Code would ensure clarity and consistency.
e) Investigations and decisions on allegations – the Committee concluded that the processes in place were satisfactory and complaints dealt with fairly.
The Committee concluded that Monitoring Officers were protected from risks relating to conflicts of interest, particularly as a Monitoring Officer from a different local authority could be called upon if necessary.
f) Sanctions – the Committee compared existing sanctions to those available prior to the Localism Act 2011 and concluded that the current sanctions were insufficient and recommended that all previous sanctions should be reinstated. It was also recommended that an additional sanction regarding the removal of allowances or remuneration should be considered.
g) Declaring interests and conflicts of interest – the Committee discussed the need for clarity regarding personal, prejudicial and pecuniary interests, particular at Parish level, but concluded this was a training matter and not relevant to the current consultation response.
h) Whistleblowing – the Chairman confirmed that the Council had a satisfactory policy. There was no comment in response to the consultation.
i) Improving standards – the Committee discussed the need for good training at District and Parish level, and noted that opportunities were ... view the full minutes text for item SC/26
Items not on the agenda which the Chairman of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered as urgent because of the special circumstances
There was no urgent business.