Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  Tel 01362 656870

No. Item



To clarify the position with regard to the Chairman’s term of office following the approval of recommendations by Council on 12 August 2010.


The Solicitor confirmed that the recommendations from Standards Committee to Council (at pages 3-4 of the previous minutes) had been agreed on 12 August 2010.


Mrs Jenkins’ term had been extended to May 2011 and the terms of the two other Independent Members had been confirmed to be until May 2012.


A report would be presented to a future meeting for consideration of ways to facilitate a staggered change-over of Independent Members in future.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2010.



The minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2010 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.



Apologies for absence had been received from Mrs Matthews, Mr Whittley and Mr Williams.


Urgent Business

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.



The Chairman invited the Solicitor to update Members on the latest news regarding Standards for England.


The Solicitor advised that information in Bulletin 48 concerning the future of the Standards framework confirmed the Government’s commitment to abolish the Standards regime.  However, the Bill was not likely to be pubished until late 2010, meaning that the likely closure of Standards for England would not be until December 2011 at the earliest.  In the meantime the system would remain in operation.


It was agreed that an item should be put on the next agenda to give Members the opportunity to discuss their concerns and that the Solicitor would check to see if there were any plans for a consultation document.<1>


Declaration of Interest

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.





Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members wishing to address the meeting.





Application for Dispensation - Swanton Morley Parish Council pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Monitoring Officer.


Additional documents:


The Solicitor explained that Swanton Morley Parish Council was seeking a dispensation to make decisions about Swanton Morley Village Hall Trust, having temporarily taken over the management of the charity as sole managing trustees.


The Chairman noted that, in its guidance, the Charity Commission advised that Parish Councils had no authority to take over charitable trusts.  She therefore felt that if the Committee granted the dispensation it would be aiding and abetting unlawful behaviour.


The Solicitor pointed out that in their letter the Parish Council said that they were currently working with the Charity Commission to amend the trust document. 


Other Members were concerned that if the dispensation was not granted the Trust would cease to function.


The Solicitor suggested that as the dispensation only allowed the Parish Council to deal with Trust matters from a Code of Conduct point of view it should be made clear to them that it was not giving them legal approval.


The Chairman supported this proposal as long as the possible problems were made clear.




1)     grant a dispensation to Roger Atterwill, Stephen Westbury, Alexander Sommerville, Marilyn Thomas, George Northall, Alan Fleming and Bernard Marsham to speak and vote in connection with the Swanton Morley Village Hall Trust; and


2)     make it clear to the Parish Council that the dispensation did not give them legal approval and encourage them to contact the Charity Commission for guidance.


Standards Committee Posters pdf icon PDF 255 KB

To consider the posters submitted.


Additional documents:


The Standards Officer tabled colour copies of the posters submitted by students in response to the competition.  A black and white poster had also been sent in by Mr Whittley who was unable to attend the meeting, and the proposed colour scheme for that poster was read out.


Only four posters had been submitted by students, one of which contained the Council’s logo but not in accordance with the corporate standard required and so the Standards Officer considered that it was probably inadmissible.


She reminded Members that the aim had been to produce a poster which could be put on every Town and Parish Council notice-board and in doctor’s surgeries, etc to raise the profile of Standards system.


The response from the schools had been very disappointing although it was acknowledged that it was a difficult subject to portray visually.  Members did not consider that any of the posters met the required standard and in light of the uncertainty about the future of Standards it was decided not to proceed with the poster campaign.


A Member was concerned that the school might expect to receive the prize money offered but the Standards Officer explained that she had made it clear that the money would only be paid if a poster was chosen.


AGREED that , bearing in mind both the uncertain future of the Standards Regime and the posters submitted, the scheme should not proceed.


The Chairman thanked the Standards Officer for her efforts and asked her to write and thank Swaffham High School for participating.


Scheduling dates of Future Sub-Committees and Hearings

To discuss the possibility of identifying particular dates for future Sub-Committee meetings.



The Standards Officer explained that she had experienced problems recently when trying to arrange Standards Sub-Committee meetings some of which should be convened within 20 days of receipt of a complaint.


She suggested that one day a month should be set aside as a provisional date for Sub-Committee meetings.  Those dates would be in Members’ diaries and therefore if a Sub-Committee was needed, Member availability should not be an issue.


If there were no items to be discussed, she would write to advise Members that they did not need to keep the date free. If a Member was going to be unavailable for one of the proposed dates, they should let her know in advance. 


Members agreed that this was a sensible way forward and decided that the first Tuesday of the month should be chosen. 


AGREED that the Standards Officer would circulate a schedule of dates for provisional Sub-Committee meetings.


Items for Future Agendas (Standing Item)

To note items for inclusion on future agendas.



A Member suggested that an item on delegated decisions by planning officers should be on a future agenda as she was concerned that certain comments, published on the website, could lead to a public perception of pre-determination.


The Solicitor advised that although it was perfectly acceptable to have such an item on the agenda, this matter was outside the Standards’ Committee remit, although they could pass on their comments to Development Control Committee or Cabinet.


The Chairman also noted that the Independent Members’ term of office needed further discussion and also their need to resign and re-apply.  She also suggested that training sessions should be put back onto the agenda.


AGREED that the following items be included on future agendas:


1)                 Pre-determination by Planning Officers (and the Development Services Manager be invited to attend);

2)                 Terms of Office of Independent Members; and

3)                 Training Sessions.


Next Meeting

To note the date of the next meeting on 19 October 2010.



The arrangements for the next meeting were noted.