Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2007.


For the sake of clarity, the reference to “parish meetings” in minute 25/07 was amended to read “parish council meetings”.


The minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2007, as amended above, were then confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mr R. Childerhouse, Mrs. M. Oechsle, Councillor E. Gould, Mr J.P. Labouchere, Mr M. Eveling and Mrs S. Allen.


Urgent Business (Agenda Item 5)


The Chairman announced that, following the close of business, there would be a showing for the Committee’s information of a recently released training dvd on the new Code of Conduct.


Applications for Dispensations (Agenda Items 7, 8 and 9)


Application for Dispensation - Thetford Town Council (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Cabinet Office).

Additional documents:


         RESOLVED that a dispensation be granted until the end of May 2011 to the under-mentioned named town councillors of Thetford Town Council to allow them to speak and vote on any matters relating to the G.W. Staniforth Charity:


George Patrick Balaam, Roy F.W. Brame, Marion P. Chapman-Allen, Sam H. Chapman-Allen, John A. Harding, Robert G. Kybird, Terence J. Lamb, Derek G. Mortimer, Albert Paines, Thelma I. Paines, Patrick J. Pearson, Gareth M.O. Pickering, Pauline P. Quadling, Michael G. Spencer, Pamela A. Spencer, Stuart N.H. Wright.


Application for Dispensation - Beetley Parish Council (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Cabinet Office).


         RESOLVED that a dispensation be granted until the end of May 2011 to the under-mentioned named members of Beetley Parish Council to allow them to speak and vote on any matters relating to The Beetley Charity, The Beetley Fuel Allotment Charity, The Richard Farrers Charity and The Bread Charity:


Robert Richmond, Angela Leigh, George Hayes, Adam Luck, David Silk, Michelle Petzer and Ronald Campbell-Smith


Application for Dispensation - Harling Parish Council (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Cabinet Office).


An inadvertent error in the report was noted which contained the wrong list of parish councillors’ names and a correction was made accordingly.


RESOLVED that a dispensation be granted until the end of May 2011 to the under-mentioned named members of Harling Parish Council to allow them to speak and vote on any matters relating to The Recreation Ground East Harling, Harling Old School Hall, East Harling Children’s Playing Field (known locally as “The Poplars”) and East Harling Youth Centre:


Michael R.B. Brown, Jean D. Denniss, Philip Edge, Anthony Fry, David J.B. Galliford, Donald A. Grunbaum, Cynthia M.U. Hustler, Graham Jubb, Roy Kemp, Elizabeth Mould, Michael B. Sarson




Arising from the above items, a member was concerned that very few applications for dispensations had so far been submitted by parishes since the May local elections, compared to the existing numbers granted previously.


It was agreed that an item be included in the proposed parish newsletter to raise awareness and to remind parishes of the need to submit applications for dispensations where appropriate.


Monitoring of Member Training (Agenda Item 10)

At its last meeting, the Committee sought clarification of the Council’s policy for its members to undertake training and on monitoring of members’ training (Minute 31/07).


At Council on 30 March 2007, Breckland Council agreed to sign up to achieving the aims of the East of Regional Assembly Charter on Elected Member Development and Training.  It is proposed to achieve the Charter by May 2008.


Under the Charter, the Council had to adopt a Strategy for future Member Development and Training requirements.  This was agreed earlier this year.


The Charter further requires that individual Member development and training requirements are assessed and agreed with the Member concerned, and then incorporated into a Personal Development Plan.  This plan should reflect the Member’s role on the Council and their past experience (i.e. work, courses, etc).


The plan must not be disclosed to anyone, except the Council's member training officer (i.e. Democratic Services Manager or Principal Committee Officer).

For this reason, Breckland Council cannot publish a list of Members who attend training courses, albeit we can confirm that the achievement of the training plan will be monitored by the member training officer.


The Monitoring Officer advised that the Member Charter programme was designed to meet members’ personal training and development needs and was private to them and not something that could be published.


However, the Council had earlier this year adopted the recommendation from the Committee that: “(1) all Members of the Council should be expected to attend standards training within four months of their appointment and that their positions on Committees should be reviewed if they have not done so; and (2) members’ attendance on training be recorded and monitored and published annually.” (Council minute 11/07(a), 4/1/2007)


So far as members’ attendances at Standards training was concerned, three training sessions had been held since the District Council elections in May 2007 and to date, only 17 out of the 54 District Councillors had attended one of these training sessions.


Members felt that it would be timely to raise awareness once again that training is required following re-appointment to the Council, particularly bearing in mind the recent changes to the Code of Conduct.


It was agreed to preview the new training dvd at the end of the meeting, which would help to determine the level of further advice and/or training which should be offered to members as appropriate.


Standards Committee on the Council's Website (Agenda Item 11)

At the last meeting, clarification was sought on the content of the entry for the Standards Committee on the Council’s website, particularly with reference to the wording in relation to “whistle blowing” (Minute 31/07).


The website entry is as follows:


“Purpose of Committee

The Standards Committee consists of 4 members comprising 2 Breckland members, 1 Parish representative and 1 external independent person.  Its role is to promote high standards of conduct, including advising on any revision of the members’ code of conduct, monitoring its operation and granting dispensations.  It considers reports and advice from the Standards Board.  The committee also oversees amendments to the council’s constitution, monitors the officer employment procedure rules and overviews the whistle blowing policy.”


The reference to the “whistle blowing policy” relates to item 9 of the Committee’s Delegations as contained in Part 3 of the Constitution (“To advise the Council on the adoption, revision and operation of its Confidential Reporting Policy (“whistle blowing” code”).



The information was noted and it was also explained that this Committee’s responsibility was in relation only to the adoption, revision and operation of the Council’s policy on confidential reporting and not in regard to the handling of any cases under that policy.


Standards Board for England Decision (Agenda Item 12)

A complaint was made to the Standards Board for England on which it has made no finding of fact.


The Standard Board’s policy on dubious and arguable statements in political leaflets is that the Board is unlikely to investigate such matters unless they enter the realm of extreme and deliberately offensive remarks about other people.  There is also an argument that election leaflets are not produced in a member’s official capacity and are therefore outside its scope.  In this regard, the Board notes that election material is produced by a person wishing to become (or continue as) a councillor and this is not, in itself, part of the duties of an elected member.


The Monitoring Officer explained that this item was intended to highlight the Standard Board for England’s policy in regard to political leaflets.


The position was noted.


Items for Future Agendas (Agenda Item 13)

To consider whether there are any items which Members of the Committee or officers wish to bring forward to be placed on the next or a subsequent agenda of the Committee for proper consideration.


The Monitoring Officer informed members of two probable forthcoming hearings, one of which could potentially be held on the same day as the Committee’s next scheduled meeting in October; a date for the second hearing remained to be agreed but was likely to be during mid-November.  


Next Meeting

To note the date of the next meeting on 30 October 2007.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 30 October 2007 were noted.

- End of formal business -

Standards Board for England - Preview of Code of Conduct Training dvd

Following the close of business, members viewed the new training dvd from the Standards Board for England, following which it was felt that it could usefully highlight some of the key aspects of the changes to the Code of Conduct as part of a more general training session for members.  The Monitoring Officer was asked to look at arranging a new training session for members to take place at a future meeting of the full Council.