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Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bray (with Councillor P B Honeywood substituting) and Bucke (with no substitute).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee, held on Monday 19 March 2018.
The minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee, held on 19 March 2018, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
There were none on this occasion.
Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 37
Subject to providing two working days’ notice, a Member of the Committee may ask the Chairman of the Committee a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the Tendring District and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.
There were none on this occasion.
To undertake a review of the Protocol on Member and Officer Relations, which was last adopted by the Standards Committee in September 2014 to ensure that it is current and reflects best practice.
There was submitted a report (A.1) by the Monitoring Officer which sought to undertake a review of the Protocol on Member and Officer Relations, which had been last adopted by the Standards Committee in September 2014 in order to ensure that it was still current and reflected best practice.
The Committee was made aware that the Protocol had initially been reviewed by the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Chief Executive and the Management Team, to ensure that the Protocol reflected the current working practices and also enhance the Access to Information provisions. The amendments suggested by the Monitoring Officer for consideration by the Committee when undertaking its review were:
· to ensure the current wording was consistent with the Constitution;
· insert that any appropriate challenges between Members and Officers should be undertaken in a professional and respectful manner;
· clarify that Officer conduct would be dealt with in accordance with the Council’s Human Resources Policies and Procedures; and
· insert provisions on the common law ‘need to know’ principle.
It was felt that the success of the Council was greatly dependent upon the positive nature of the working relationship between Members and Officers. Mutual trust and respect between Members and Officers was essential to good local government. To that end in 2014, the Standards Committee had adopted the current Protocol on Member/Officer Relations, which was contained within the Councils’ Constitution.
Members were informed that the recent Local Government Association Peer Review feedback in its report had stated that: “Member and Officer relationships are good. Members are engaged and well briefed on issues. They value the informal “all member briefings” that take place each month as well as the other opportunities to be involved.”
The Committee was advised that the existing Protocol was considered to still represent best practice. However, following an initial review by the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Chief Executive and his Management Team, a few minor amendments had been suggested for consideration by the Committee.
The Monitoring Officer reported that it was essential that the wording of all the Council’s Codes and Protocols were up to date with its current policy and the legal position. Therefore, it was suggested that the role of Members was updated in order to ensure consistency with Article 2 of the Constitution and that the position of the Chief Executive, as set out in Article 12, was included due to its importance in relation to staffing matters.
An express ‘principle’ had also been included stating that any appropriate challenges between Members and Officers must be undertaken in a professional and respectful manner.
In addition, a new paragraph 5.3 (as detailed below) was proposed for inclusion under the Access to Information section referring to the common law principle that councillors had the right to access information held by the Council where it was reasonably necessary to enable the Member to properly perform their duties as a councillor. In some instances, it might be necessary for a councillor to demonstrate their ‘need to know’ ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
Discussion Topics and/or Updates from the Monitoring Officer
The Monitoring Officer will give a quarterly update on Complaints.
Quarterly Complaints Update
The Monitoring Officer circulated to the Committee the quarterly schedule, which gave general details of complaints received, without providing any names, and went through them with the Committee.
In relation to the first item of the schedule, the Committee requested the Monitoring Officer to write again to the Parish Council to reiterate the offer of training for the Parish Council’s Members.
The Monitoring Officer also referred to Part 4 of Annex E of the Standards Complaints Investigation Procedure and explained that at the present time the report that the investigator produces does not have to include comments on all of the issues complained of, if for example, the investigator finds only one issue proven. If Members agree that Annex E needs to be amended to reflect this then this will need to go to Council for approval as Annex E is part of the Council’s Constitution.
It was therefore moved by Councillor Honeywood, seconded by Councillor Nicholls and:
RESOLVED that the revision to Annex E of the Standards Complaints Investigation Procedure be referred to Council.
General Notes – Matters arising through March to July 2018
Requests for Dispensations
The Committee was advised that no requests for dispensations had been submitted to the Monitoring Officer since the last update to Members.