Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee
Tuesday, 23 April 2019 6.30 p.m.

Venue: Georgian Room, Kendal Town Hall

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

S/11

Minutes pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 18 September 2018 (copy attached).

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting held on 18 September 2018.

S/12

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 of interest were raised.

S/13

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/14

Annual Report on Compliments, Customer Feedback and Complaints Received During 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To receive the annual report on compliments, customer feedback and complaints received during 2018/19 and to note the recent decisions of the Local Government Ombudsman.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Operational Lead Support Services presented an update on the compliments, customer feedback and complaints received during 2018/19.

 

He informed Members that during 2018/19 there had been an estimated 3.5 million customer interactions and that during this period 121 stage 1 complaints had been received, which compared to 97 and 103 in the previous two financial years. The reasons for complaints had been wide and varied and there was no underlying trend. Complaints about council policies and service standards made up 95% of the total.

 

The Operational Lead Support Services went on to outline the improvement in the average response rate. In 2018/19 the response rate had improved to 5.2 working days with the previous two years response rates ranging from 6.2 and 15 working days. He explained that in 2018/19 89.3% of complaints had been answered within the target of 10 working days. However, 13 more complex complaints had fallen outside of the target as they had required more detailed investigation and on some occasions a site visit. In addition he explained that the simplified complaints process had helped to reduce the number of complaints which had progressed to the Chief Executive.

 

He drew Members’ attention to appendix 1 to the report and outlined that in 2018/19 66 compliments had been received, which was a slight reduction on the 72 compliments received the year before. He highlighted details of two complaints which had been upheld and recorded as maladministration and injustice at pre-report stage and explained that both cases had related to planning enforcement matters.

 

The Operational Lead Support Services responded to questions raised by Members and confirmed that lessons had been learned from the cases which had been referred to the Ombudsman.

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the report be received; and

 

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

S/15

Code of Conduct Complaints pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) with regards to complaints under the Council’s Standards Arrangements from September 2018 to date.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) presented a report regarding complaints received under the Council’s Standards Arrangements from September 2018.

 

One complaint with regard to conduct of a Parish/Town Councillor had been received and referred for investigation by the Monitoring Officer. She went on to explain that one outstanding complaint, from September 2018, was currently marked closed due to no further information being received and that the County Council were reviewing the matter.

 

Discussion took place regarding transparency and how more detailed information could be provided to the Standards Committee on individual cases. 

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

S/16

Local Government Ethical Standards pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To consider the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) presented the report on Local Government Ethical Standards. She explained that that long awaited review Local Government Ethical Standards had been published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life on 30 January 2019. The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) outlined that the review had concluded that evidence supported that the vast majority of councillors maintained high standards of conduct however, there was clear evidence nationally of misconduct by some councillors and the majority of cases related to bullying or harassment or other disruptive behaviour. In addition the review was also concerned with the risks to standards under the current arrangements, as a result of the current rules around declaring interests, gifts and hospitality and the increased complexity of local government decision-making. The review had concluded that there was no reason to reintroduce a centralised body and that local authorities should retain ultimate responsibility for implementing and applying the Seven Principles of Public Life in Local Government.

 

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) highlighted that the report had identified a number of recommendations and best practice and she explained that the Council currently undertook a number of areas of the identified best practice. However, it had been proposed that best practice would be considered further as part of the Committee’s work programme. She stated that Cumbria Monitoring Officers and Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC) would be considering further recommendations and look further to the Local Government Association regarding the creation of an updated model code of conduct.

 

She invited feedback from Members and explained that it was her view that if there were any changes, that these should aim to be agreed and adopted countywide at Parish as well as District and County level. The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) outlined the consultation undertaken and explained that the Independent Person had been consulted and had agreed that the recommendations would enhance the role of the Independent Person and provide protection in relation to the recommendations made in the review.

 

Members considered the List of Recommendations and the List of Best Practice as at appendices 1 and 2 to the report and undertook to provide their individual comments to the Monitoring Officer.

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the Review of Local Government Ethical Standards report be noted; and

 

(2)        the Monitoring Officer to consider the list of best practice recommendations and discuss with the Cumbrian Monitoring Officers and CALC any potential revisions to the existing code of conduct and/or guidance and to take account of these recommendations for a further report back to Committee.

S/17

Review of Standards Arrangements and Annual Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 220 KB

To consider the Council’s Standards Arrangements and the draft Standards Committee Annual Report 2018/19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Review of Standards Arrangements and Annual Report 2018/19 was presented by the Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer). She explained that the draft annual report, at Appendix 1 to the report, detailed the work of the Standards Committee and the operation of the Council’s Standards Arrangements over the last 12 months. The report would be presented to Full Council on 21 May 2019.

 

She stated that the Council had last reviewed its Standards Arrangements in 2017 and that it was appropriate to review them on a regular basis. It was the Monitoring Officer’s view that no immediate changes were required. However, it was proposed that the review of Local Government Ethical Standards, in particular the recommendations on best practice, be considered further by the Committee over the coming year. The Committee were invited to provide feedback on the arrangements and proposals for moving forward. 

 

Members considered the Review of Standards Arrangements and Annual Report 2018/19.

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        having considered and reviewed the Council’s Standards Arrangements, no changes be proposed at the current time; and 

 

(2)        the draft Annual Report 2018/19 be approved for referral to full Council.

S/18

Protocol between the Monitoring Officers of Cumbria and the Cumbria Constabulary pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To note the protocol agreed between the Monitoring Officers of Cumbria and the Cumbria Constabulary.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) presented the report on the Protocol between the Monitoring Officers of Cumbria and Cumbria Constabulary. She explained that Monitoring Officers within Cumbria had been considering the process for dealing with the reporting of potential criminal offences arising from the failure to register or declare a disclosable pecuniary interest under the code of conduct. She outlined the consultation which had been undertaken with the Monitoring Officers of Cumbria, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the National Park Authority’s Monitoring Officers and confirmed that they had endorsed the Protocol.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be received and the Protocol, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be noted.

S/19

Standards Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 278 KB

To consider the Committee’s Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) presented the Standards Committee’s Work Programme for 2019/20. She outlined the Work Programme for the new municipal year and stated that the Standards Training in March 2019 had been well received and she highlighted the forthcoming training on 24 June 2019 and encouraged attendance by all members of the Standards Committee.

 

RESOLVED – That the Standards Committee’s Work Programme for 2019/20 be noted.

 

The Chairman, the Independent Person Mr David Tweddle and Parish Member Councillor David Peters took the opportunity to record their thanks to the Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) for her loyal and diligent work in supporting the Standards Committee and stated that she would be missed.