Venue: Town Hall, Queen's Square, Attleborough
Contact: Committee Services Tel 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2008.
The minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was received from Mr. D. Williams.
To consider the above case referred by the Standards Board for England. The following documents are attached:
(a) Pre-Hearing Summary Checklist
(b) Report of the Ethical Standards Officer
The following persons were present for the hearing into this matter:
Ethical Standards Officer’s Representative – Ms. Jabeen Mirza
Legal Adviser to the Committee – Mr. John Chinnery, Solicitor & Standards Consultant
Attending Officer – Miss Elaine Wilkes, Senior Member Services Officer
Summary of the Allegation
That Councillor Darren Rush, a member of New Buckenham Parish Council, failed to provide a completed declaration of his financial and other interests within 28 days of taking office as a member of the Council on 3 May 2007, in breach of paragraphs 12 and 13 of the relevant Code of Conduct.
Procedures for the Hearing
The Committee considered the matter in three parts:
To consider the findings of fact as submitted in the Ethical
Standards Officer’s report.
To consider whether, in the light of the facts as found, the Member
had failed to follow the Code.
3. If it was found that there had been a breach of the Code, to determine what, if any, penalty there should be.
Summary of the Material Facts
The Ethical Standards Officer’s (ESO) Representative presented the report and summarised the findings of facts and reasons as set out in the report, which were that Mr. Rush had failed to return the required register of financial and other interests form following his election to the office of parish councillor in May 2007 within the time allowed and, despite a number of reminders from Breckland Council’s Standards Officer, Mr. Rush completed and returned the form with an apology only when the Standards Board for England wrote to him in May 2008 following the submission of the complaint.
Mr. Rush had not disputed any of the findings.
The Committee agreed with the findings of facts as set out in paragraph 5 of the Ethical Standards Officer’s report.
Findings on whether any contravention of the Council’s Code of Conduct has occurred
The ESO’s Representative summarised the findings as set out in paragraph 7 of the report.
The ESO had established that it was relevant to the case that Mr. Rush was acting in his official capacity as a councillor at the time the conduct in question took place. Mr. Rush’s failure to complete his register of members’ financial and other interests was in breach of paragraphs 12 and 13 of the Council’s Code of Conduct in force at that time.
In mitigation, it was noted that Mr. Rush had belatedly rectified the omission and completed and returned his form to the District Council.
The Committee agreed that there had been a clear breach of the Parish Council’s Code of Conduct by not returning the Register of Interests Forms in the required time.
Finding on penalty, if any, for contravention of the Code
The possible penalties available to the Committee were outlined by the ESO’s Representative.
Mitigating factors that could be taken into account were that Mr. Rush had been a serving councillor since 2006. He had apologised several times for not returning the form. It was accepted by the ESO ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To note and/or comment on the attached response sent in respect of this Consultation Paper, firstly in regardto the Chapter 2 Questions 1 to 12, and secondly some suggested revisions to the Code.
This consultation paper is the latest in a series by the Department for Communities and Local Government on a number of policy commitments set out in the White Paper, Communities in control: Real People, real power, and building on work still in progress from the 2006 White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities.
The paper invited views on proposals for revising the model code of conduct for local authority members, views on the clarification of the General Principles Order and comments on proposals to introduce a model code of conduct for local government employees. Responses were required to be submitted by 24 December 2008.
A copy of the consultation document can be viewed on http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/981962.pdf
The position was noted and no further comments were made.
Next Meeting (Agenda Item 8)
To note the date of the next meeting on 24th February 2009 at 2.15 p.m. in the Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.
The arrangements for the next meeting on 24 February 2009 were noted.