Venue: The Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham
Contact: Committee Services Tel 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 11 December 2007.
The minutes of the meeting held on 11 December 2007 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
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.
The Chairman announced one item of urgent business as follows:
Adjudication Panel for England: Appeal by Councillor J.P. McCarthy
The Standards Consultant explained that, following the Committee’s hearings into the complaints against Mr. J.P. McCarthy and Mrs. L. McCarthy, both Councillors of Watton Town Council, on 14 November 2007, Mr. J.P. McCarthy had made an appeal to the Adjudication Panel for England against the Committee’s decision.
The appeal had been made on two counts:
1) Against the finding of the breach of the Code of Conduct; and
2) Against the three months’ suspension.
The Adjudication Panel had not accepted the appeal on count 1) against the finding of the breach, on the grounds that there was no prospect that the Panel could find against the decision as Mr. McCarthy had clearly accepted the finding he had breached the Code.
The Panel had, however, decided to hear the appeal on the second count. In this respect, Mr. McCarthy claimed he had acted in accordance with advice received from the Town Clerk that he needed only to declare a personal interest in the matter concerned, but this had not been evidenced at the Committee’s hearing.
The appeal was to be heard on 13 March 2008 and the Adjudication Panel had invited the Council to say whether it wished to make any written representations or to attend the appeal to make oral representations.
It was noted that the period of suspension would have ended by the date of the appeal hearing.
The Committee had regard to the fact that the Town Clerk had been present at the hearing and that Mr. McCarthy had not questioned her on the issue of advice given to him and he had made no reference to this advice in his submission given at the hearing, unlike his wife.
The point was made that Mr. McCarthy had clearly accepted that he had had a prejudicial interest in the matter concerned which was the subject of the complaint. It was reasonable to think that he would have raised the point about receiving advice from the Town Clerk at the hearing.
Regardless of the claim now made, Members considered they had rightly concluded at the hearing that there had been quite a blatant breach of the Code of Conduct and that the decision to suspend Mr. McCarthy accorded with the seriousness of the breach.
The Committee concurred that it should make written representations to the Adjudication Panel and accordingly
RESOLVED that the Standards Consultant make representations to the Adjudication Panel for England on the Committee’s behalf to the effect that while noting the comments now made by Mr. McCarthy that he had acted on the advice given by the Town Clerk, these had not been made at the hearing and that the hearing had been carried out with due diligence on the evidence given at that time and the Committee’s decision was based on a clear breach of the Code.
Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)
To note the names of any non-members wishing to address the meeting.
The following Substitute Members were present:
Orders and Regulations relating to the Conduct of Local Authority Members in England - Consultation (Agenda Item 7)
To consider the attached consultation paper from the Department for Communities and Local Government on the new standards committee powers as provided for under Part 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. (Previous minute 57/07 refers)
Responses to the consultation are required to be submitted by 15 February 2008.
Consideration was given to the consultation paper from the Department for Communities and Local Government on the new standards committee powers as provided for under Part 10 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. Responses to the consultation were required to be submitted by 15 February 2008.
RESOLVED that the Committee’s response to the consultation be as set out in the appendix to these minutes and submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
To note the date of the next meeting on 4th March 2008.
Arrangements for the next meeting on 4 March 2008 were noted.