Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

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Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair for the year 2020-21

Minutes:

Councillor Jamila Azad was elected Chair for the year 2020-21.

2.

Election of Vice Chair for the year 2020-21

Minutes:

Councillor Susannah Pressel was elected Vice -Chair for the year 2020-21.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Code of Conduct: summary of complaints and individual dispensations - 1 February to 31 May 2020 pdf icon PDF 235 KB

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.

 

Recommendation:

That the Standards Committee notes the content of the report.

Minutes:

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.

 

5.

LGA consultation - Model Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 251 KB

Purpose of report:

This report informs the Committee of the consultation by the Local Government Association on its draft Model Member Code of Conduct.

Recommendations:

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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:  

Q1: To what extent do you support the proposal that councillors demonstrate the behaviours set out in the Code when they are publicly acting as, identifying as, and/or giving the impression that they are acting as a councillor, including when representing their council on official business and when using social media?

“To a great extent” since it helps to clarify official capacity

Q2: Is it sufficiently clear which parts of the Model Code are legal requirements, which are obligations, and which are guidance?

“No”, it is not clear

Q3:” Do you prefer the use of the personal tense, as used in the Code, or would you prefer the passive tense?

“Passive tense

Q4: To what extent to you support the 12 specific obligations?

Support each of the 12 obligations “To a great extent”

Q5: If you would like to propose additional or alternative obligations, or would like to provide more comment on a specific obligation, please do so here:

“None”

Q6: Would you prefer to see the obligations as a long list followed by the guidance, or as it is set out in the current draft, with the guidance after each obligation?

“As a list”, for ease of editing / copying if nothing else – and without a list as an appendix you could be mistaken for thinking the 7 principles of public life are the basis of the code

Q7: To what extent to you think the concept of ‘acting with civility’ is sufficiently clear?

“To a moderate extent”

Q7a: If you would like to suggest an alternative phrase that captures the same meaning, or would like to provide a comment on this concept, please do so here:

“The concept and language of acting with civility seems relevant to the current political environment although perceptions will vary and it will not be easy to assess whetherthis obligation has been breached. The alternative concept of “respect” is suggested (although the same difficulties with recognising breaches apply).”

Q8: To what extent do you think the concept of ‘bringing the council into disrepute’ is sufficiently clear?

“To a moderate extent”

Q8a: If you  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Member training 2020 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

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.

Recommendation:

That the Standards Committee resolves to:

1.              Endorse the arrangements for member training in 2020/21 as set out in the report

Minutes:

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.

7.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 307 KB

Minutes:

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.

8.

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

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the dates of future meetings.