Agenda and minutes

Venue: Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  Tel 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

6.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2008.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 22nd January 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

7.

Apologies (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence.

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Susan Allen (Standards Officer) and Malcolm Whittley.

8.

Urgent Business (Agenda Item 3)

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Minutes:

(a)       New Members - Welcome

 

The Chairman explained that the Membership of the Standards Committee had increased with effect from 21st February 2008 to 9 members.  He welcomed the new Members on to the Committee and wished them well for the future.  He then pointed out that the regulations with regard to the Standards Committee were changing and that, with effect from the next meeting, there would be a need to appoint an independent Chairman for this Committee.

9.

Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 4)

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal or prejudicial interest.

 

Minutes:

The following Declaration was made:-

 

Mr D Myers – personal interest in regard to Agenda Item 10 on the grounds that he knew the Member of Watton Town Council who had been subject to the investigation and also the circumstances of that case.

10.

Chairman's Announcements (if any) (Agenda Item 6)

Minutes:

(a)  Standards Training – The Local Filter

 

The Chairman reminded Members that Broadland District Council had invited the Monitoring Officers and Standards Committee Members from each of the Authorities in Norfolk to attend a presentation on the Standards Board for England’s Filter Model.  This presentation would be held at the Marriott Sprowston Manor, Wroxham Road, Norwich on Thursday, 13th March 2008 (10.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.). 

 

The presentation would be given by Alison Dennett, Acting Monitoring Officer with Hull City Council, who represented one of the Authorities that participated in the Standard Board for England’s Filter Model.  In addition, Paul Hoey, from the Standards Board for England, would be attending the event and time would be permitted within the programme to allow Monitoring Officers and Standards Committee Members the opportunity to raise any standards-related issues with him.

 

Members agreed to note the arrangements for the training session as set out above.

11.

Application for Dispensation - Bawdeswell Parish Council (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members gave consideration to an application for a dispensation from Bawdeswell Parish Council in respect of Former Highway Surveyor’s Land in Bawdeswell.  The 7 parish councillors were all Trustees of the former Former Highway Surveyor’s Land and, as such, would have to declare an interest.

 

RESOLVED that a dispensation be granted until the end of May 2011 to the under-mentioned named members of Bawdeswell Parish Council to allow them to speak and vote on any matters relating to the Former Highway Surveyor’s Land in Bawdeswell:-

 

Mr John Mallen (Chairman)

Mr David Shannon (Vice-Chairman)

Mr J Lilwall

Mr M Hipperson

Mr D Cockburn

Mr C Beane

Mr W Mason.

12.

Standards Complaints: Local Filter: Terms of Reference of Committee (Agenda Item 8)

The new draft Regulations are not, at the time of writing, available, but it is expected that they will grant the new powers and duties directly to the Standards Committee or to Sub Committees of that Committee.  Whether or not this proves to be the case, it is recommended that a new provision should be inserted into the Committee’s Terms of Reference to cover the situation in the words below:

 

13.       (Minor amended wording)

 

“To hear any formal complaints against members (including parish councillors) which are not within the scope of the Code of Conduct and to make recommendations to full Council or to the relevant Town/Parish Council where appropriate.

 

14.             To deal with any assessments, reviews, hearings or other matters relating to complaints under the Member’s Code of Conduct in accordance with legislation.”

 

If approved, this will be a recommendation to Council.

 

Minutes:

The Solicitor and Standards Consultant reported that the new draft Regulations were not available but it was expected that they would grant the new powers and duties directly to Standards Committee or to sub-Committees of that Committee.   Whether or not that proved to be the case, it was recommended that a new provision should be inserted into the Committee’s Terms of Reference.  The new wording would also cover the situation where issues were not within the scope of the Code of Conduct.

 

RECOMMENDED that Council be asked to agree the following changes to the Standard Committee’s Terms of Reference:-

 

13.  (Minor amended wording)

 

     “To hear any formal complaints against Members (including parish councillors) which are not within the scope of the Code of Conduct and to make recommendations to full Council or to the relevant Town/Parish Council where appropriate.

 

14. To deal with any assessments, reviews, hearings or other matters relating to complaints under the Member’s Code of Conduct in accordance with legislation.

13.

Orders and Regulations relating to the Conduct of Local Authority Members in England - Update (Agenda Item 9)

Details are awaited on the Regulations and Guidance on the new standards committee powers as provided for under Part 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.  An update will be given at the meeting.

Minutes:

The Solicitor and Standards Consultant informed Members that details on the Regulations and Guidance on the new Standards Committee powers as provided for under Part 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 were still awaited.  He confirmed that he had spoken to a representative of the Standards Board earlier that morning and had been advised that the start date for the implementation of these regulations had been deferred a month to 1st May 2008.  The Standards Board for England were still preparing the draft guidance which was expected to be available later this month.  Similarly, the Regulations had not been available as further discussion on several matters was still taking place.

 

Members were informed that the delay in implementing the Regulations was welcome as it gave officers more time to prepare the paperwork required, albeit it was hoped that the guidance would produce templates for much of this documentation.  Officers had been advised that the new Regulations would repeal all of the current regulations.

 

During discussion of this item, the Chairman advised that the requirement to appoint an independent Chairman with effect from 1st April 2008 would be unaffected by the delay in introducing the new regulations and thereby a new independent Chairman would be appointed at the next meeting of the Standards Committee on 15th April 2008. 

 

Members agreed to note the progress made to date.

14.

Standards Board for England: Investigation Report - Councillor B. Wykes: Watton Town Council (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To note the attached summary report from the Standards Board for England.

Minutes:

The Report on the Recommendation of the Standards Board for England in this matter was noted.

 

During discussion of the Report, Members highlighted that there had been several instances of problems relating to Code of Conduct issues relating to Watton Council.  It was agreed to offer Code of Conduct training to the Town Council and officers were asked to monitor the situation.

 

RESOLVED that the Standards Officer be asked to offer Code of Conduct training for Members and the Clerk to Watton Town Council, monitor the situation and discuss possible future action with the new Chairman of the Standards Committee if the problem continues.

15.

Appointment of Additional Independent Member (Agenda Item 11)

On 17 January 2008, Council increased the Standards Committee membership, with effect from 21 February, to nine members, being 3 Breckland members, 3 Parish members and 3 independent lay members.  There is one remaining independent lay member appointment to be made.

 

When prospective lay members were interviewed by this Committee on 17 April, 2007, one applicant was noted as a possible reserve: Mr George Ridgway of Attleborough.  Mr Ridgway has recently indicated that he is still interested in the position, and his Application Form is appended as an Exempt item in Part B (agenda item 13 refers).

 

After discussion with the Chairman of this Committee, it is recommended that this Committee recommends to Council that Mr G Ridgway is appointed as the third independent lay member of the Committee.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded members that on 17th January 2008, Council had increased the Standards Committee Membership, with effect from 21st February, to 9 Members, being 3 Breckland Members, 3 parish Members and 3 independent lay Members.  There was currently 1 remaining independent lay Member appointment to be made.

 

When the prospective lay Members were interviewed by this Committee on 17th April 2007, one applicant was noted as a possible reserve: Mr George Ridgway of Attleborough.  Mr Ridgway had recently indicated that he was still interested in the position and his application form had been appended to the Agenda for Members’ perusal. 

 

The Solicitor and Standards Consultant advised Members that a former member of the Standards Committee, Mr Ralph Morgan, had approached him with a view to him being considered for the vacancy.  He pointed out that if Members were to consider Mr Morgan for this position, it would be necessary to re-advertise the vacancy to see if any other applicants were forthcoming and then conduct interviews with any person who applied for the position. 

 

During consideration of the appointment of the independent Member, Members unanimously agreed that Mr Ridgway had been appointed as the reserve last year, during which 15 candidates were interviewed.  As such, it was felt that Mr Ridgway was the best applicant for the post. 

 

RECOMMENDED that Council be asked to appoint Mr G Ridgway as the third independent lay Member of the Committee.

16.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 12)

To note the date of the next meeting on 15 April 2008 at 2.15pm in the Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the next meeting of the Standards Committee be held on 15th April 2008 at 2.15 p.m. in the Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.