Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee
Monday, 4th March, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Email: committees@midsussex.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

To receive apologies for absence

Minutes:

None.

2.

To consider any items that the Chairman agrees to take as urgent business

Minutes:

None.

3.

To receive Declaration of Interests from Members in respect of any matter on the Agenda

Minutes:

None.

4.

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 17 December 2018 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman noted a few minor amendments to the Minutes of the previous meeting namely and subject to these changes the minutes were approved.

 

5.

Standards Committee Annual Report for 2018 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Minutes:

Tom Clark, Head of Regulatory Services, introduced the report which noted a quiet year in terms of complaints that he believed to be due to the lack of Neighbourhood Plans as it had been a big cause for complaint in previous years. He drew attention to guidance from the Committee on Standards in Public Life who published a report suggesting a voluntary Code of Conduct for Councils to follow as well as guidance over disagreements between clerks and a certain Member or Members of the Council. He highlighted that the government had indicated they would bring in requirements for candidates to be free from any sex offender registration or anti-social behaviour order to be eligible to be a candidate in the May 2019 elections. Other events in Parliament seem to have delayed the enactment of the change and therefore eligibility criteria remains the same in 2019 as it was in 2015.

 

A Member enquired how much should the Council audits itself to identify the causes of complaints raised and expressed that the Council should make everyone more aware that if they have a complaint they should come forward. She also stated that there should be further sanctions than those already in place.

 

The Chairman noted that the answers to the Member’s questions were included in the responses to consultation by the Committee for Standards in Public Life. He added that any implementation of further sanctions should be carried out on a national scale.

 

The Head of Regulatory Services explained that the complaints received in 2018 have focused on the Councillor personally and not on their role as a Councillor, highlighting similarities between that and the case of Ken Livingstone when he was London Mayor. The law says such complaints are not actionable.

 

A Member raised his concerns, a concern particular to him and other Members in his Ward, over the attacks received over social media. He highlighted the revealing of addresses and wondered whether the Council would be receiving more directives on that the use of social media. He also enquired what would occur if a Member in a single Member Ward was suspended for 6 months and who would pick up the issues and concerns of their constituents.

 

The Head of Regulatory Services that the responsibility for the ward would fall to the Leader in the short term however he would usually nominate a Councillor in a neighbouring ward to fill the gap for the duration of the suspension.

 

The Chairman noted that the issue of social media and believed that the option of not declaring the address of a Councillor is a step in the right direction. He wondered whether a section could be included in the annual report that if a Councillor is experiencing abuse, providing direction to information which can help advise them on the correct approach the issue.

 

A Member shared her concerns of social media as having seen certain material that could be constituted as a hate crime. She suggested whether there could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Questions pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 10 due notice of which has been given.

Minutes:

None.