Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: St Aldate's Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Jennifer Thompson, Committee and Member Services Officer 

No. Item


Election of Chair to May 2016


The Standards Committee elected Councillor Gill Sanders to be Chair and Councillor Dick Wolf to be Vice-Chair for the Council year 2015/16.


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Clack (Councillor Paul substitute), Councillor Rowley (Councillor Coulter substitute), Chris Ballinger and Godfrey Cole Independent Members.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest made.


Review of code and guide to avoid bias pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Purpose of report:  To update the Committee on a review of the Code by the Oxfordshire Monitoring Officers group and to present a joint guide on avoiding bias in decision making


Recommendation(s): That the report be noted.

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer submitted a report (previously circulated and now appended) providing an update on the review of Members Code of Conduct and also presenting a guide for members on avoiding bias.


The Monitoring Officer outlined the difficulty some members have in understanding what might lead to accusations of bias but after discussion with the County Monitoring Officer Group they had decided not to include this within the Code of Conduct but to provide a guide for members to help them make judgements.  This guide will form part of the compulsory Code of Conduct training for members.


In discussion members asked what the phrase “outspoken” meant within the guide.  The Monitoring Officer outlined that this was more likely to be in planning matters where members should always keep an open mind.


Assessment Panel Decision Notices March 2014 to December 2015 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Purpose of report: To update the Committee on the work carried out by the Council’s Assessment Panel since March 2014.                                                                                      

Recommendation: The Committee is recommended to note the decision notices issued by the Council’s Assessment Panel.

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer submitted a report (previously circulated and now appended) covering the work of the Assessment Panel between March 2014 and December 2015. 


The Monitoring Officer outlined that the small number of complaints demonstrated the high standards of behaviour of our Councillors, he thanked the Independent Members for their time and efforts in considering the complaints.  He assured the Committee that Decision Notices had been sent to the complainant and the Councillor shortly after the Assessment Panel had made their decision.


The Committee asked about the handling of confidential information and if Councillors had a good understanding that information they might assume to have been said or written in confidence would have to be disclosed within investigations or Freedom of Information requests. 


The Monitoring Officer agreed that an assertion of confidentiality could not be relied upon and this area is covered in the member compulsory code of conduct training.  He also agreed to clarify the issue of individual data protection registration for Councillor during the next training sessions.


The Committee asked about the report of other complaints against the Council which used to be reported to this Committee.  The Monitoring Officer said that Council had recently agreed that serious complaints would be reported to the Audit and Governance Committee and that member oversight of other complaints was being discussed with the Board Member responsible.


Member Training in 2015 and proposals for 2016 pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Purpose of report: to update the Committee on training delivered to members in 2015 and outline proposals for 2016.


Recommendation: that the Committee notes the delivery of member training in 2015 and plans for 2016.

Additional documents:


The Committee and Members Services Officer introduced a report (previously circulated and now appended) outlining the improvements to member training and the planning arrangements for 2016/17.


The Committee welcomed the improvements and asked that we take opportunities to share with other local authorities where possible.  It was suggested that because of the increasing complexity of planning there may be a need to provide more detailed planning training particularly for those members who sit on planning committees. The Committee and Members Services Manager agreed to talk to the three Planning Chairs.


In response to a questions about planning training for parish councillors, particularly in relation to travellers, it was suggested that parish councillors should join the Oxfordshire Association of Parish Councils where they could access good quality free training.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 27 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting.


The minutes were agreed as a true record.