Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

19.

Election of a Vice-Chairman of the Committee

The Committee is requested to elect, from amongst its membership, a Member to take the vacant office of Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

Minutes:

The Committee gave its consideration to the office of its Vice-Chairman which was vacant following Councillor Amos’ replacement as a member of the Committee by Councillor Alexander.

 

It was moved by Councillor J Henderson, seconded by Councillor Wiggins and:-

 

RESOLVED that Councillor Steady be elected Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the remainder of the 2019/2020 Municipal Year.

20.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillor Overton (with no substitute) and Sue Gallone (one of the Council’s appointed Independent Persons).

21.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee, held on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 2 October 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

Further to Minute 15 of the aforementioned Minutes and in regards to the possible provision of a general indemnity cover for Members, Officers and, in particular, the Independent Persons, the Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits Services had requested a formal report from the Council’s Insurers on the present level of cover and the potential future cover and that an Officer report on this issue would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee.

22.

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.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made at this time.

23.

Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38

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.

Minutes:

There were none on this occasion.

24.

Report of the Monitoring Officer - A.1 - Disclosure and Barring Checks for Elected Members pdf icon PDF 343 KB

To note the outcome of an investigation into the feasibility of introducing DBS checks as mandatory for all elected Members (having had regard to the statutory criteria).

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to a detailed report of the Monitoring Officer (A.1) which reported the outcome of an investigation into the feasibility of introducing Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks as mandatory for all elected Members (having had regard to the statutory criteria).

 

The Committee recalled that, at its meeting held on 2 October 2019, it had received a further report of the Monitoring Officer concerning the recommendations within "the Local Government Ethical Standards Report dated January 2019 following a review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life".  The Report had set out those recommendations which required legislative changes and those which the Council could adopt through best practice.  Following consideration of the report the Committee had resolved that the Monitoring Officer investigate the feasibility of introducing DBS checks as mandatory for all elected Members (having had regard to the statutory criteria) and to report the outcome of such investigation to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Members were made aware that, at its meeting held on 23 October 2019, the Human Resources and Council Tax Committee had also requested that the Council gives due consideration as to whether it should conduct DBS Checks on Elected Members.

 

The Human Resources and Council Tax Committee had determined that it was appropriate for them to consider this matter in the light of its legal duties in respect of safeguarding children and adults with needs for ‘care and support’, as defined in legislation including the Children Act 2004 and the Care Act 2014. The Human Resources and Council Tax Committee had resolved the following:

 

“That the Deputy Chief Executive be requested to investigate the appropriateness and practicalities of introducing DBS checks for all Elected Members of Tendring District Council (such as the budgetary and legal ramifications) and that the outcome of such investigations be reported to a future meeting of the Council (having first been submitted to the Standards Committee for its recommendations) for its consideration and determination.”

 

That investigation process had involved:

 

  • a review of the approach taken by other local authorities regarding the introduction of DBS check’s for Elected Members;
  • engagement with Legal, Financial and Democratic Services regarding the practical implications of introducing such a policy.

 

It was reported that, prior to 2012, Local Authorities had routinely carried out Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks on Elected Members. However, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 had created the Disclosure and Barring Service and a new system of checks. This had included a more restrictive set of criteria to determine when checks could be carried out and on whom. Since 2012, the issue of DBS checking for Councillors had become a policy matter for individual Councils.

 

The Committee was advised that Standard and Enhanced DBS checks could only be undertaken if the specific role, or the specific activities carried out within the role, were included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (access to standard DBS certificates), and were also covered by the Police Act 1997  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Report of the Monitoring Officer - A.2 - Mandatory Training for Members - Annual Update pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To update the Standards Committee, as part of its agreed work programme, on the current position of mandatory training for Members (and named substitute members) of the Council’s Audit, Licensing & Registration, Planning and Standards Committees.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was submitted a report (A.2) by the Monitoring Officer which sought to update the Committee, as part of its agreed work programme, on the current position of mandatory training for Members and named substitute Members of the Council’s Audit, Licensing & Registration, Planning and Standards Committees.

 

The report reiterated the Council’s decision and constitutional requirement to make relevant training mandatory for Members, and their named substitutes, in respect of their membership on those committees which provided regulatory type functions. The report also detailed training undertaken and attendance to date.

 

Appendix A to the report provided details of those Members who had attended the new Code of Conduct training in May 2019 (which had previously been reported to the Committee at is meeting held in July 2019). Since then two additional District Councillors had received training which had been delivered at Harwich Town Council in December 2019. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that due to the type of matters considered by the Standards Committee, each topic involved consideration of the relevant factors and in doing so the Committee received a range of information to take into account. When hearings were required to determine the outcome of Members’ Code of Conduct complaints a briefing would be held with the Committee beforehand, though no hearings had been undertaken so far in 2019/20.

 

The Committee was made aware that, in February 2020, the Monitoring Officer would be delivering two training sessions to Parish and Town Councillors. Invites would also be sent to those District Councillors who had yet to receive the required training for this year. The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that at the first of these training sessions held on 4 February 2020 three additional District Councillors had received Code of Conduct training. This left a total of 11 District Councillors outstanding.

 

Appendix B to the report provided details of the Planning Committee Mandatory Training for 2019/20. The Committee noted that a range of subjects had been delivered, with concentration on determining applications being included within the post Council elections training for newly elected Members, Appeals and Affordable Housing. Those sessions were essential to understanding the various considerations to be taken into account by the Planning Committee when making decisions on applications. It was reported that a further session was scheduled for 28 January 2020 which would cover the Planning Inspector’s decisions with regard to the planning enforcement appeals at Point Clear, St Osyth. The Monitoring Officer verbally reported at the meeting that all members of the Planning Committee had attended that session.

 

Appendix C to the report detailed the training record for the Licensing and Registration Committee. As usual only one session had been delivered (in June 2019) but it had covered a range of topics. Two additional 1-2-1 training sessions had been delivered to members of that Committee who had either been unable to attend the first session or had been newly appointed to the Committee.

 

In respect of the Audit Committee the Committee was informed that the Head of Finance,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Quarterly Update on Complaints

The Monitoring Officer will give an update on existing cases together with general details of new cases, if any.

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer circulated to the Committee the quarterly schedule, which gave an update on cases, without providing any names, and went through it with the Committee.

 

The Monitoring Officer stated that there were no existing cases but that there were a number of new cases and she gave details as follows:-

 

New Cases since last update:

Council

Complainant

Current Status

Final Outcome

Comments

 

Parish

Member of the Public

Closed

No further action

Related to comments on Facebook made by Chairman of a Parish Council on its behalf – considered a right to respond to Complainant’s initial comments on social media regarding the Parish Council’s actions. The Parish Council Chairman did not name the individual and a reasonable general response had been issued.

 

Parish

Member of the Public

Independent Person consulted – Decision Notice to be issued

Pending

Likely to recommend informal resolution to improve relationships within the Parish.

 

District (x2)

Member of the Public

Complaint to be sent to Councillors concerned to comment on

Pending

Relates to accessibility of Ward Councillors to those who do not have access to the Internet.

The Committee was also made aware that the Monitoring Officer had delivered a refresher session on the Code of Conduct to Harwich Town Council in December 2019 together with further training delivered to a number of Town and Parish Councillors on 4 February 2020. Both had been well-received with positive feedback. A further session had been arranged for 18 February 2020.

 

It was reported that there had been no requests for dispensations from Members since the last update.

 

The Committee noted the foregoing.