Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  Tel 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2011.

Minutes:

It was noted that the paragraph on page three, commencing A Member suggested…, should read “… in view of the existing partnership… “.

 

Subject to that amendment, the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2.

Apologies (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence.

 

Minutes:

None.

3.

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:

None.

4.

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:

No declarations were made.

5.

Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)

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

 

Minutes:

Mr Askew, Executive Member for Finance and Democratic Services, was welcomed to the meeting.

6.

The New Standards Regime and Code of Conduct (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Mr Askew, Portfolio Holder for Finance & Democratic Services has been invited to attend the meeting to provide Executive comment.

Minutes:

The Solicitor advised Members that the timetable for implementing the new regime had been extended to 1 July 2012.  However, Standards for England would cease to exist from 31 January 2012. 

 

In view of the change to the timetable it was RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL that the terms of office of the existing Independent and Parish Members of the Standards Committee be extended until 30 June 2012, plus the transitional period to dispose of existing complaints (expected to be two months).

 

The Solicitor explained the background to the new system and the requirements of any new Code.  He asked for Members’ views on the content and wording of the existing Code.  No draft Codes were yet available, but Members had the opportunity to suggest amendments for the new Code.

 

Mr Askew thought that there should be a uniform system and Code of Conduct around the County at least.  He understood that the current system was cumbersome and that the new system needed to be simpler.  As there was currently no information available on what other authorities were intending to do he could not see any way forward, unless the Committee were ready to act as ‘trail blazers’. 

 

The Chairman explained that the Committee wanted to help to prepare people for the changes, but did not want to give out any wrong information.  They needed a political steer from the Executive.

 

Mrs Matthews did not think that it was necessary to wait for others to make their minds up.  If the Council decided what it wanted a draft could be prepared and then could be offered to others.

 

Mr Askew agreed with that idea but did not want to do unnecessary work if the legislation might change it.

 

Mr Williams explained that it was not criminality that they were discussing, but the behaviour of Councillors at meetings, etc.  He felt that the Council had a good team on the Standards Committee that should be retained.  He did not think that the same system should apply to all, as different tiers of Local Government had different ways of managing things.

 

Members were asked for their views on going forward alone with draft proposals and the majority were in favour of doing so.  Concerns were raised about Town and Parish Councillors not being required to sign up to the same Code as District Councillors. 

 

It was suggested that the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of all the Town and Parish Councils should be invited to a meeting (or possibly a Forum) so that the changes could be explained.  For example, the District Council would still be responsible for investigating complaints against Town and Parish Councillors but then the complaints would be passed back to the Town or Parish Council for them to deal with. 

 

There was a debate in which Members put forward various suggestions.  The key issues which emerged were:

 

With regard to the existing system and Code:

 

·   The existing Code was good and worked well, it was the system that needed to be streamlined  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Items for Future Agendas (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 7)

To note items for inclusion on future agendas.

 

Minutes:

No other items were put forward.

8.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 8)

To note the date of the next meeting on 21 February 2012.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 21 February 2012 were noted.