Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Monday, 10th June, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Email: committees@midsussex.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

Minutes:

Town Councillor Ash-Edwards nominated Councillor Bradbury as Chairman of the Committee and this was seconded. There were no further nominations and Councillor Bradbury was duly elected.

 

RESOLVED

 

Councillor Bradbury be elected Chairman of the Standards Committee for 2019/20.

 

2.

Election of Vice-Chairman

Minutes:

The Chairman nominated Town Councillor Christopher Ash-Edwards as Vice-Chairman and this was seconded by Councillor Clarke. There were no further nominations.

 

RESOLVED

 

That Town Councillor Christopher Ash-Edwards be appointed as Vice Chairman of the Standards Committee for 2019/20.

 

3.

To receive apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Mr Anthony Cox, Councillor St Pinnock, Councillor Brunsdon and Councillor Eves.

4.

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

Minutes:

None.

5.

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

Minutes:

None.

6.

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 4 March 2019 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

An Independent Member for Standards highlighted revisions to the penultimate paragraph in which he advised the committee of a report rather than a committee he had attended and that the good recommendations referenced in the paragraph related to a councillor’s use of social media. Once the amendments were made, the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 4 March 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

7.

Standards Committee Business 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Minutes:

Tom Clark, Monitoring Officer, introduced the report which outlined the expected work of the Standards Committee in 2019/20. He noted that complaints usually arise from work on Neighbourhood Plans with councillors having interests in sites that are being brought forward, either with them being a land owner or having the site situated close to a councillor’s house. Due to the nature of some small villages it is sometimes hard to not have an interest in land therefore dispensations are sometimes given out. Social media was also referenced as causing Code of Conduct complaints which this Council has not experienced that significantly however breaches usually make the national media. Failure to properly complete and update the declaration of interest form was another source of complaint.

           

The Chairman also highlighted the Committee’s input on national legislation and referred to the committee’s work during the previous municipal year where the committee made observations and recommendations to the Committee on Standards for Public Life. The Committee decided roughly what other councils had thought and made recommendations to add further penalties such as writing a letter of an apology or temporarily suspending the concerned councillor for a period of up to 6 months.

The Chairman added that it is not a responsibility of the committee to tell Parish Councils how to run their Council and that the committee has previous advised on whether someone on the sexual offences register should be disqualified from standing from office. He asked the Monitoring Officer to explain how he deals with potential breaches of the Code of Conduct.

 

The Monitoring Officer explained that if receives a report of an issue, he refers the report to an Independent Person for their advice. He would then ask for the councillor concerned to respond to the possible breach. If the complaint goes further, three members of the Standards Committee are asked to consider the issue and decide whether a potential breach has occurred. It would be their judgment to decide whether there has been a potential breach and whether this potential breach needs to be investigated further. The Deputy Monitoring Officer or a Monitoring Officer from another authority will then look at the breach, conduct an investigation and draft a report on the matter. The report is then taken to a Hearings Panel and it is for the Panel to decide whether a Code of Conduct breach has occurred and what penalties or suspension should be given. There is an appeal available which is dealt with by the High Court.

 

A Member enquired whether there is any recall petition for Members similar to that which was possible for the Member of Parliament.

 

The Monitoring Officer confirmed that there is not.

 

A Member questioned whether there is training for councillors/councils on Code of Conduct issues.

 

The Monitoring Officer explained that there is training that can be given to a councillor as a punishment for breaching the Code of Conduct however he cannot force the member concerned to attend the training. The Chairman added  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

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

Minutes:

None.