Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate's, Oxford

Contact: Alec Dubberley, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

The Constitution does not permit substitutions



Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Brundin (local authority representative) and Meryll Dean (independent member).


Declarations of Interest

Members serving on the Committee are asked to declare any personal or personal prejudicial interests they may have in any of the following agenda items.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 31 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on:


·        9 September 2011

·        15th. September

·        4th. October

Additional documents:


(1)       Resolved that the minutes (previously circulated) of the meetings of Committee held on 9 September 2011, 15 September 2011 and 4October 2011 be confirmed as a correct record.




(a)       The Monitoring Officer reported that the next regular meeting with Parish Councils would be held on 5 December and that he would update the meeting on the Localism Act as it affected the Standards regime and parish councils, and would report back;


(b)       To ask that the periodic meeting between the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee, Group Leaders and the Chief Executive be held in January 2012.


Assessment Panel outcomes pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To inform the committee of the decision taken by the Assessment Panel on the 4th. October




The Monitoring officer submitted an Assessment Panel decision notice (previously circulated, and now appended).




(1)       To receive the decision notice and to note its contents;


(2)       That all members of the Committee be reminded of Standards for England’s interpretation of and guidance on the term “bullying” for the purposes of paragraph 3(2)(b) of the Members’ Code of Conduct;


(3)       To ask the Monitoring Officer to report back to the Committee’s next meeting on the requirements or otherwise for publicity and openness in Assessment Panel decision notices and investigation of failures to follow the Members’ Code of Conduct.


Localism Act pdf icon PDF 89 KB

The Localism Bill has now received Royal Assent. The Head of Law and Governance has submitted a report informing the Standards Committee of the provisions of the Act and how they will affect the Standards regime.

Additional documents:


The Head of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer submitted a report (previously circulated and now appended).


Considerable discussion ensued and in addition to the points set out in the report the following three points were raised:-


·                    There was an apparent reference in the Act to current independent members on Standards Committee not being able to continue in that capacity in relation to investigations of breaches of any replacement Code of Conduct.


·                    In relation to complaints of (new) Code breaches it appeared to be the case that both complainants and those complained about could make direct approaches to an independent member.


·                    Dispensations to enable members with interests to take part in and vote on matters could be granted by the Proper Officer appointed for that purpose. 




(1)       To receive the report and to note its contents;


(2)       To ask the Monitoring Officer to proceed, with County colleagues, to draft a local Code of Conduct and complaints arrangements, liaising with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee, and to report back to the Committee’s next meeting;


(3)       To ask the Monitoring Officer also to report back to the next meeting on:-


(a)       the position in relation to independent members and standards committee requirements;


(b)       any other aspects of the Localism Act that might impinge upon local authority ethical standards.


Annual Audit Letter pdf icon PDF 591 KB

The Committee is responsible for considering anything relevant (to its responsibilities) in the Annual Audit Letter.


The Monitoring Officer will guide the committee to any relevant sections for discussion


The Head of Law and Governance submitted the Council’s Annual Audit Letter (previously circulated, now appended) in respect of the Audit Commission’s 2010/11 audit.




(1)       To note that the Council’s Annual Governance Statement (page 5 of the Letter) contained references to the role of the Standards Committee;


(2)       To note that in terms of operational performance (page 9 of the Letter) there was no reference, but in the Committees view there ought to be, to the Council’s well-developed and improving complaints processes. 


Local Government Ombudsman - Complaint pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To advise the Committee of the results of an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman that concerns their work.

Additional documents:


Resolved to receive and note a report (previously circulated, now appended) of the Head of Law and Governance concerning a complaint relating to a Standards matter that had been referred to the Local Government Ombudsman.


Corporate complaints pdf icon PDF 524 KB

The Head of Law and Governance has submitted a report providing information on corporate complaints received by the Council.


The committee is asked to note the report and make comments on it.

Additional documents:


The Head of Law and Governance submitted a report (previously circulated, now appended).  The Committee noted a correction to the information on the page that related to the raw numbers, namely that the number for Oxford City Homes should read 440 and not 2031; and considered that the number of City Works justified complaints as a percentage of all complaints made was incorrect.


The Head of Law and Governance explained that the higher numbers for City Works and for City Leisure as compared with other Service Areas were:-


·                    City Works – the new garden waste scheme had proved popular to an extent such that an under-estimate of the number of bins needed had occurred.  The complaints related largely to this under-estimate.  In other words, more people had asked for the new brown bins than were initially available.


·                    City Leisure – a greater number of complaints were now being logged onto the system through Fusion Leisure.  The number of complaints had not necessarily increased but were now being recorded more accurately.


As to the number of Oxford City Homes complaints, he felt the explanation for the high number had to do with miscoding by temporary staff.




(1)       To ask that a corrected version of the complaints statistics be placed on the Council’s website;


(2)       That, for future reports, an explanation of variances and high numbers be given in the report itself;


(3)       That fuller details of the nature of complaints be included in the report and broken down in the statistics;


(4)       To endorse the intended inclusion in future complaints reports of comments from Directors and Heads of Service; and


(5)       To note that the next complaints report would be available in June 2012.


Dates and Times of Future Meetings

9 March 2012, 3.00 pm



Resolved to note that the Committee’s next meeting would be held on Friday 9 March 2012 commencing at 3.00 p.m.