Agenda and draft minutes
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Election of Chair for the year 2020-21
Councillor Jamila Azad was elected Chair for the year 2020-21.
Election of Vice Chair for the year 2020-21
Councillor Susannah Pressel was elected Vice -Chair for the year 2020-21.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
Purpose of report:
To advise the Committee of:
1. the number of complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct which have been, or are to be, considered by the Head of Law and Governance (in her statutory capacity as the authority’s Monitoring Officer) and the Independent Persons. The report also notes the outcome, where complaints have been concluded; and
2. the number of dispensations to an individual member, granted under Section 33 of the 2011 Localism Act, by the Monitoring Officer, following consultation with an Independent Person.
That the Standards Committee notes the content of the report.
The Monitoring Officer introduced the report. There had been no complaints that councillors had breached the Members’ Code of Conduct in the period covered by the report. Similarly there had been no requests for an individual dispensation under Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011.
The Standards Committee resolved to note the content of the report.
Purpose of report:
This report informs the Committee of the consultation by the Local Government Association on its draft Model Member Code of Conduct.
That the Standards Committee resolves to:
1. Note the report;
2. Approve the draft consultation response at Appendix 3; and
3. Authorise the Head of Law and Governance to submit a consultation response to the LGA on the Council’s behalf.
The Monitoring Officer and the Lawyer introduced the report and summarised the key elements of the LGA draft Model Code of Conduct:
· it aims to be concise, written in plain English and be understandable to members, officers and the public.
· it has been designed to aid members in all tiers of local government model the behaviours and high standards that anyone would expect from a person holding public office.
· it articulates behaviour which falls below the standards that would be expected of council members
· it is designed to help set a framework for public and councillor interaction, emphasising the importance of civility and that councillors should be protected from bullying, intimidation and abuse.
The Committee discussion centred on the draft responses to the consultation, particularly questions 7,8, 9, 11 and 13 of Appendix 3 of the report. The revised draft response set out below reflects the Committee’s views:
Purpose of report
To seek the endorsement of the Standards Committee of the specific arrangements for member training in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of local authority elections until 2021.
That the Standards Committee resolves to:
1. Endorse the arrangements for member training in 2020/21 as set out in the report
The Monitoring Officer presented the report which set out the proposed arrangements for member training in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of local authority elections until 2021. She advised the Committee that the compulsory induction and training programme planned for 2020 would now commence in 2021 and that 2020 would be treated as a “non-election year” for the purposes of member training under the terms of the agreed member Training and Development Scheme 2020-24, which had been endorsed by the Standards Committee at its meeting in March 2020.
In discussion the Committee noted that:
· There would be no compulsory training for Code of Conduct or Planning in 2020
· Where there are changes to councillor roles such as Lord Mayor (in November 2020), training will be offered to those councillors directly.
· Personal Safety training will be offered to candidates standing in the May 2021 local elections, subject to the availability of this training either on a face to face or online basis depending on the circumstances in early 2021.
· Briefings on topical issues will continue to be offered to councillors.
· Councillors may, with the agreement of their Group Leader, draw on the Member Training budget held by Committee and Member Services to access external training courses and events relevant to their special responsibilities or the reasonable learning and development of a councillor.
· Training, equipment and other support has been offered to all councillors in accessing meetings held remotely under new legislation passed in April 2020. The need for this training had not been anticipated in the Member Training and Development Scheme for 2020-24. Feedback from councillors has been broadly very positive about the support provided by ICT and Committee and Member Services.
In response to a question from the Committee the Monitoring Officer confirmed that supplementary training would be provided if there was a recognised need, for example regulatory changes which would impact on the planning or licensing committees.
The Committee were mindful of the changes in the patterns of exploitation that had been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic and considered that annual Safeguarding training should be provided. Members of the Committee who had been present for the previous discussion on training in March 2020 believed that this was what had been agreed at that meeting.
The Monitoring Officer undertook to amend the member Training and Development Scheme 2020-24 to reflect the view of the Committee and to instruct officers to provide Safeguarding training for councillors in 2020.
The Standards Committee resolved to:
1. Endorse the arrangements for member training in 2020/21 as set out in the report and subject to the amendment that Safeguarding training should be provided on an annual basis.
The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting held on 2 March 2020 as a true and accurate record subject to the following amendments:
· Apologies: delete “Councillors” and replace with “Independent Persons” before Chris Ballinger and Jill McCleery.
· Minute 18, 4th bullet: delete “biennial” so that minute reads: Safeguarding training was vital and should be provided on an annual basis.
Dates of future meetings
The Committee is scheduled to meet at 6.00pm on the following dates:
· 15 September 2020
· 16 November 2020
· 8 March 2021
The Committee noted the dates of future meetings.