Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee - Tuesday, 7 July 2020 6.30 p.m.

Contact: Committee Services 

Link: View the live stream of the meeting here

Items
No. Item

S/1

Chairman's Announcement

Minutes:

Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, the Chairman welcomed everyone to the virtual meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s Standards Committee, in doing so, thanking all officers involved in the process for their work on the project.

 

The Chairman referred to the new Government legislation allowing councils to conduct remote meetings and explained in detail to all taking part. He then invited Members of the Standards Committee, the Independent Person and Parish Members to introduce themselves, to advise whether they were taking part by video or audio and to confirm that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting.  All Members present, including the Chairman himself, having indicated that this was the case, he referred to officers present at the meeting who would introduce themselves when asked to address the meeting.

S/2

Minutes pdf icon PDF 292 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 15 October 2019.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 15 October 2019 subject to the clarification outlined by the Monitoring Officer regarding resolutions (1) and (2) of item S/1 of those Minutes.

 

Clarification of the resolution (1) and (2) of item S/1 of those meeting is as follows:

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the Chairman of South Lakeland District Association of Local Councils (SLDALC), Parish Councillor David Peters, be re-appointed as a co-opted Member of the Standards Committee until September 2023, or for as long as he holds the position of Chairman of SLDALC and is a parish councillor wholly or mainly in the Council's area if shorter; and

 

(2)        Parish Councillor Peter Smillie be re-appointed as a co-opted Member of the Standards Committee until September 2023 and for so long as he is a parish councillor wholly or mainly in the Council's area if shorter.

S/3

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/4

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 were no excluded items on the agenda.

S/5

Standards Committee Work Programme

To receive a verbal update on the Committee’s Work Programme.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        it be noted that the Standards Committee received verbal update on the Work Programme; and

 

(2)        the work programme focus for 2020/2021 would be on the revisions to the Member Code of Conduct and training relating to the Member Code of Conduct.

S/6

Continuation of the Appointment of the Independent Person

To receive a verbal update following consideration by Council on 30 June 2020 of the continuation of the appointment of Mr David Tweddle as the Council’s Independent Person.

Minutes:

Members were informed of the re-appointment of the Independent Person at the Council meeting held on 30 June 2020. Members welcomed and congratulated the Independent Person on his re-appointment.

           

Members sought confirmation from the Independent Person on what impact the restrictions on holding meetings during Coronavirus Pandemic had on his ability to continue his independent monitoring role. The Independent Person informed Members that he continued to play his role effectively during this period and that he had met regularly with the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) using alternative means to provide independent review of complaints. The Independent Person also informed Members that he had no problem in conducting his role with the Council during this pandemic.

 

RESOLVED – That the re-appointment of Mr David Tweddle as the Independent Person effective from 1 July 2020 for a period of 4 years be noted.

S/7

Local Government Association Civility in Public Life and the Review of the Model Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To consider the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Civility in Public Life and Review of the Model Code of Conduct, including the publication by the LGA of a new draft Model Code of Conduct and the commencement of consultation thereon.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Committee, Councillor Matt Severn introduced the Local Government Association (LGA) Model Member Code of Conduct (“the draft Code”). The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) presented the report to Members. She informed Members that the LGA’s consultation was the commencement of the review into members Code of Conduct. She informed Members that they could individually, or as a group, provide responses towards the consultation. Suggestions were made to Members that the Standards Committee could put forward comments on the draft Code. The LGA had carried out a number of workshops and webinars to obtain comments on the draft Code which was attached to this report at Appendix 1. Members were invited to review the draft Code and to provide their comments accordingly.

 

Members were also referred to the draft LGA Guidance and Recommendations (“The Guidance”) which included Code Appendix A which focused on the Nolan Principles and Code Appendix B which dealt with proposals regarding registration of interests. The importance of the suggested amendments were highlighted to Members.  The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) recognised the need for more clarity on the Code and the Guidance from LGA, given the importance it would have on Members. It was emphasised that the ramifications of the proposed changes would require Members to declare an interest on items which were not only financial, pecuniary or non-pecuniary, but also interests that could affect a Members’ well-being. The draft consultation was expected to continue until 17 August 2020. The suggested amendments were said to contain significant changes which Members may wish to comment on by completing the questionnaires attached to the report or by writing to the Council to provide their views on the proposed changes.

 

Members were referred to the LGA’s webinar which other Members and clerks could attend to obtain further clarity or make further comments. The Legal Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) informed Members that she would be attending a webinar on the 29 August 2020 to obtain an update on the consultation and that Cat Brumwell, Case Management Officer, Support Services would circulate a further opportunity from Northwest Employers. 

 

Members noted that they would be responding to the consultation at parish and district levels individually and that parish clerks would also provide responses to the consultation.  The new provision and use of the word “civility” were concerning to Members. Members suggested that “civility” could be replaced with “respect for members, public and organisation”. Members were mindful of the upcoming legislation that could result in suspension of councillors and that such legislation should be in place before progressing with the draft Code and Guidance. Some Members were opposed to the idea that councils would be able to suspend councillors under proposed Legislation.

 

Members requested clarity on what amounted to ‘bringing council into disrepute’ and commented that such phrase could be open to interpretation. The Committee discussed the proposed Internal Procedure of the removal from committees or positions of chairing meetings.  It  ...  view the full minutes text for item S/7

S/8

Code of Conduct Complaints pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To consider a report on complaints received under the Council’s Standards Arrangements from October 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were referred to the report on this item. The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) informed Members that the Independent Person had several meetings with herself and the Legal Governance and Democracy Specialist (Deputy Monitoring Officer) to discuss and work towards resolving the complaints received since the Standards Committee’s last meeting on 15 October 2019. Members were informed that further decisions were about to be issued and that more complaints had been progressed and resolved as set out in Appendix A of this report.

 

Updates were provided to Members on the stages of the two outstanding complaints received since the Standards Committee on 15 October 2019. Members were informed that the complaint received on 4 June 2020 was ongoing and that further information was being sought from the complainant. In relation to the complaint received on 13 March 2020, the Council had consulted with the Independent Person and a decision was likely to be issued by the end of this week.

 

Members noted that, from reviewing the report and the table at Appendix 1 of the report, the majority of complaints were said to be relating to parish councils. Members highlighted the need to identify this trend in the feedback to be provided to the LGA on its draft Code and Guidance. 

 

RESOLVED – That the Standards Committee notes the report.

S/9

Chairman's Announcement

Minutes:

The Chairman, prior to closing the meeting, expressed thanks to all who had participated and officers for their efforts for facilitating the meeting.