Agenda and minutes
Venue: via Remote Video Link
Contact: Email: CommitteeServices@horsham.gov.uk Direct Line: 01403 215465
To approve as correct the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2020
(Note: If any Member wishes to propose an amendment to the minutes they should submit this in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 24 hours before the meeting. Where applicable, the audio recording of the meeting will be checked to ensure the accuracy of the proposed amendment.)
The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 9 September were approved as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman at a later date.
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
There were no announcements.
To receive the report from the Monitoring Officer
Local assessment and investigations to include progress on Steyning Parish Council
The Monitoring Officer updated the Committee on progress since the resolution at the previous meeting relating to Steyning Parish Council (SPC) and the need to resolve the problem of persistent complaints through training or mediation. SPC were willing to engage and had held a full Parish Council meeting focussed on behaviours. They had resolved to hold a number of smaller meetings to seek solutions, and the Monitoring Officer and members of her team would be involved. The Monitoring officer and Legal Services Business Manager had also met with the SPC Clerks and have been invited to their next full Parish Council meeting.
The Committee noted the outstanding complaints as printed in the report. The Legal Services Business Manager advised that since publication of the report a further three formal complaints had been received, two of which related to SPC.
It was noted that there were four outstanding cases that would be considered by a Standards Sub-Committee early next year.
Update on the Appointment of Independent Person
The Monitoring Officer confirmed that, after conducting a number of interviews, the recruitment of a second Independent Person had been successful and the appointment was about to be made.
Update on the Appointment of Parish Representative
The Monitoring Officer reminded the Committee that Horsham Association of Local Councils (HALC) were receiving nominations for a second Parish Representative. These would be considered by HALC at a meeting in December and forwarded with their recommendations to the Monitoring Officer.
Update on the Model Code of Conduct
The Monitoring Officer advised that publication of the new Model Code of Conduct, which had been delayed because of the pandemic, was expected shortly. Once available the new Code would need to be adopted; it would be best practice to use the new Code to bring consistency across local authorities and parishes.
The Chairman expressed concern that the new Code would still lack sufficient sanctions to deter breaches of the Code, and the Committee’s current lack of teeth would continue. The Committee discussed the possibility of publishing Decision Notices where a breach had occurred so that the name of the Councillor would be in the public domain. Members discussed this proposal in the context of the existing protocol and the ICO’s advice that naming individuals who had breached the Code of Conduct was in the public interest.
The Committee agreed that the Monitoring Officer bring a report to the Standards Committee detailing the implications of publishing Decision Notices.
If the Committee is in agreement, a recommendation can then be taken to Council to adopt the policy of publicly naming elected Members who breach the Code.
The Chairman suggested that an additional Standards Committee could be arranged, if required, to enable the recommendation to go to Council at the earliest opportunity.