Agenda item

The Localism Act - The Amended Standards regime (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Assistant Director – Democratic Services.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services presented the report which included an updated Code of Conduct and arrangements for dealing with complaints against Members.

 

The date for implementation of the required changes was 1 July 2012.  However, as the Regulations had not been published until 8 June 2012, the current meeting was the earliest opportunity to adopt them.

 

He noted that failure to register a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) would be an offence dealt with by the police.  A person found guilty of an offence relating to a DPI was liable on summary conviction to a fine and disqualification from being a Member.  They would also have a criminal record.

 

Members were invited to remain at the end of the meeting for a short briefing on the Code of Conduct, DPIs and registering interests.

 

To avoid any further delay in adopting the new procedures the Executive Member proposed the suspension of Standing Order 54 which would require any changes to Standing Orders to stand adjourned until the next ordinary meeting of the Council.  The proposal was seconded and moved.

 

RESOLVED that Standing Order 54 be suspended for the current item of business, so that the recommendations at item g) of the report could take immediate effect.

 

Attention was drawn to the following minor amendments to the report:

 

·   Section 2.2 of the Code of Conduct amended to read:

 

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

·   Stage 4 of the Arrangements for dealing with standards allegations under the Localism Act 2011 – first paragraph under The Hearing Panel – amend final sentence to read:

 

“No member will be selected to sit on the Hearing Panel if they are a resident of the same town / parish / ward as the subject member or the complainant or they have a close association.”

 

Mr Kybird noted that a number of Parishes would be adopting the Breckland Council Code of Conduct as an interim and it needed to be made clear that the Standing Order clause applied only to the District Council.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

a)         Members approved the arrangements for Standards (Appendix 1) as detailed within this report to be implemented with effect from 5 July 2012.

 

b)         Members delegate authority to the Monitoring Officer and the Audit Committee as detailed in the arrangements (Appendix 1).

 

c)         Members delegate authority to the Monitoring Officer any further procedural decisions on implementing the arrangements detailed within this report.

 

d)         Members delegate authority to the Monitoring Officer to amend the constitution to reflect the approved arrangements as agreed by Council and any further amendments agreed in future by Council as necessary.

e)         The Standards Committee is disbanded with immediate effect as set out in the Regulations to the Localism Act 2011.

 

f)          Members approve the Terms of Reference for the Audit Committee as detailed in Appendix 2 and delegate powers accordingly.

 

g)         The following amendments to Standing Orders be approved:

 

            Standing Order 43 – Item 2 and Item 5(a) replace prejudicial interest with Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.

 

            Standing Order 43 – Item 5(b) replace Standards Committee with Hearings Panels of Audit Committee and replace General Purposes Committee with Appeals Committee.

 

            Standing Order No 46 – amend wording to read:

 

                        ‘The Council’s Code of Conduct adopted under the Localism Act 2011 or any re-enactment thereof will apply where a member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest and the term ‘Disclosable Pecuniary Interest’ in these Standing Orders has the same meaning as defined in regulations.

 

                        Where a member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest the member must declare the interest to the meeting, and leave the room without participating in any discussion or making a statement on the item, except where a member is permitted to remain as a result of the grant of a dispensation.’

 

            Standing Order 52 – Item 2 replace prejudicial interest with Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.

 

Supporting documents: