Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 6.30 p.m.

Venue: Georgian Room, Kendal Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Paul Rogers 

Items
No. Item

S/13

Minutes pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 September 2016 (copy attached).

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 September 2016.

S/14

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members of interests in respect of items on this Agenda.

 

Members are reminded that, in accordance with the revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests.  (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting.)

 

Members may, however, also decide, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other registrable or other interests.

 

If a Member requires advice on any item involving a possible declaration of interest which could affect his/her ability to speak and/or vote, he/she is advised to contact the Monitoring Officer at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That it be noted that no declarations were raised.

S/15

Local Government Act 1972 - Excluded Items

To consider whether the items, if any, in Part II of the Agenda should be considered in the presence of the press and public.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That it be noted that there are no excluded items on the Agenda.

S/16

Compliments, Customer Feedback and Complaints received during 2016/2017 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

To receive an update to Members on the number of complaints and compliments received during 2016/2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) presented an update from the Assistant Director Policy and Performance on the number of complaints and compliments received during 2016/17.  In the past year, the number of Stage 1 complaints had reduced slightly, although there had been a very slight increase in the time taken to respond to all complaints due to a number of more complex cases involving more detailed investigation.  All complaints had, however, been acknowledged within one working day.  The report referred to four complaints which had been investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman to date, with the annual report expected in July.  Two of these complaints had been recorded as “maladministration but no injustice” at pre-report stage, and related to planning matters, one of which had an agreed action for the Council to review and update its local validation list, which had been done.  The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) was pleased to highlight that the number of compliments was rising.

 

During discussion, the Director of Policy and Resources undertook to seek clarification on the result of the investigations of the remaining two Ombudsman cases.  She explained the process followed prior to complaints progressing to the Chief Executive and clarified that the nine that had reached that stage during 2016/17 related mainly to planning matters.  In response to queries raised, she also undertook to ensure that Members were provided with a summary of complaints received and information on customer satisfaction with regard to responses to complaints.

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the report be received; and

 

(2)        the recent decisions of the Local Ombudsman be noted.

S/17

Review of Guidance for Members Appointed to Outside Bodies pdf icon PDF 38 KB

To consider the amended guidance for Members appointed to Outside Bodies.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Solicitor to the Council reported on a recent review of the Guidance for Members appointed to Outside Bodies prior to circulation of the amended document to Members at the start of the new Council year.

 

The guidance was intended to explain the types of outside body that Members could be appointed to, the different management arrangements that they could adopt, the legal responsibilities of Members appointed to outside bodies and any liability or insurance issues associated with being a representative on such a body.

 

The Solicitor to the Council indicated that the updates, shown at Appendix 1 to the report, related mainly to changes in officer roles and strengthening of the sections relating to shadow directors and the definition of “bias”.

 

Discussion took place around shadow directors, trustees and liabilities, and to the possibility of councillors being dissuaded from taking on these roles.  The importance for councillors to be aware of their responsibilities as the Council’s representatives on outside bodies, the capacity in which they had been appointed to the organisation, for example observer or trustee, and the need for suitable training were raised.

 

It was suggested that clarification should be included within the guidance on the need for Members appointed to charitable trusts to ensure that they were covered by trustee indemnity insurance.  In addition, it was suggested that the bullet points within the document be numbered for ease of reference.

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        subject to the amendments raised and outlined above being made, the updated Guidance for Members appointed to Outside Bodies, as attached at Appendix 2 to the report, be noted; and

 

(2)        the updated and amended Guidance as referred to at (1) above, be circulated to Members.

S/18

Code of Conduct Complaints pdf icon PDF 15 KB

To receive the report of the Monitoring Officer with regard to complaints received from September 2016 to date.

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) reported that, under the Council’s Standards Arrangements, she reviewed any complaint received about District or Parish/Town Councillors in respect of the Members’ code of conduct and, after consultation with the Independent Person, took a decision as to whether it merited formal investigation.  Members had last been updated in September 2016.  Since that time, whilst there had been a small number of enquiries relating to parish matters, no formal complaints had been received.

 

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) informed the Committee, however, that since writing the report, a formal complaint relating to a parish matter had been received, and was being considered through informal resolution.  She advised that the Standard’s Committee’s draft Annual Report would be amended to reflect this and, once settled, she would provide feedback to the Committee within the next update report.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

S/19

Feedback from Independent Person on recent Training Event

To receive a verbal update from the Independent Person.

Minutes:

The Council’s Independent Person, David Tweddle, reported on a training session that he had attended on 30 March 2017.  The half-day workshop had been delivered by Hoey Ainscough Associates Limited who were recognised experts in the field of the Local Government Standards Framework.  The workshop had provided an opportunity to explore the role of the Independent Person in length, to discuss key developments throughout the year and to network and share experiences with others.

 

Most importantly, Mr Tweddle had been able judge how South Lakeland District Council’s Standards Arrangements compared with those of other authorities.  He felt satisfied that the Authority had good arrangements in place, however, had noted that the subject of a complaint should be informed of their right to consult the Independent Person within the initial communication.

 

Mr Tweddle highlighted the fact that, when the Localism Act 2011 had come into force, it had been indicated that there would be a review following a five year period in order to assess whether the Act was meeting its aims.  Although this review had not yet taken place, it was likely that this would happen within the next year or so.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Tweddle for his report.

 

RESOLVED – That the verbal feedback on the recent training event attended by the Independent Person be noted.

S/20

Review of Standards Arrangements and Annual Report 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To consider the Council’s Standards arrangements and the draft Annual Report for 2016/17.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) reported that the Council had been operating under revised Standards Arrangements since June 2012.  It was appropriate for the Committee to review the Standards Arrangements on a regular basis and this had last been carried out in 2015.  The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) was of the opinion that no changes were required at this time.

 

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) also presented the Committee’s draft Annual Report for 2016/17, which detailed the work of the Committee and the operation of the Council’s Standard Arrangements over the last 12 months.

 

In presenting the report, the Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) referred to amendments required to the draft Annual Report as a result of the formal complaint referred to at Minute S/18 above and due to two Ombudsman cases now having been upheld since September 2016 and outlined at Minute S/16 above.  She advised that the amendments to the Annual Report would be finalised with the Chairman of the Committee.

 

Attention was drawn to a typographical error on Page 6 of the Annual Report.

 

RESOLVED - That

 

(1)        the Council’s existing Standards Arrangements be noted and confirmed; and

 

(2)        subject to the amendments raised and outlined above being made, the Standard Committee’s draft Annual Report 2016/17 be approved for referral to full Council.

S/21

Standards Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 216 KB

To consider the Committee’s Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) presented the Standard Committee’s Work Programme for 2017/18 which, she advised, she would continue to review throughout the year.

 

In consideration of the Programme, it was raised that the Standards Committee was not a diverse group gender-wise.  Although it was acknowledged that there was not a requirement for committees to be gender balanced, Members undertook to pass on this comment to their respective group leaders.

 

Discussion took place with regard to what topics were covered in Members’ Induction Training and particularly with regard to the Standards Committee’s role in relation to training on the Code of Conduct.  The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) informed Members that the programme of training was developed by a cross party Member Support Steering Group and explained the types of training available, which covered a wide range of areas, including mandatory sessions relating to Planning, Licensing and the Code of Conduct, as well as training for ward members.  She undertook to review the matter with regard to the role of the Standards Committee in the development of Members’ Induction Training.  Members were keen to have sight of a complete list of what was covered.

 

RESOLVED – That the Standards Committee’s Work Programme for 2017/18 be noted.