Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Meeting will be held in accordance with the provisions of SI 2020/392. Link to the live stream is found here: https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/livemeetings

Contact: Ian Ford  01255 686584

Note: Link to the live stream is found here: https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/livemeetings 

Items
No. Item

1.

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 Councillors J Henderson (with no substitute) and Overton (with no substitute).

2.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee, held on 5 February 2020.

Minutes:

It was moved by Councillor Steady, seconded by Councillor Wiggins and:-

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 5 February 2020 be approved as a correct record.

3.

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.

4.

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 no such questions on this occasion.

5.

Report of the Monitoring Officer - A.1 - Local Government Association Model Member Code of Conduct Consultation pdf icon PDF 34 KB

To agree Tendring District Council’s formal response to the Local Government Association’s Model Member Code of Conduct consultation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was submitted a report (A.1) by the Monitoring Officer which sought the Committee’s agreement to this Council’s formal response to the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Model Member Code of Conduct consultation.

 

The Committee was informed that the LGA had launched its consultation on a draft Model Member Code that could be a template for councils to adopt in whole and/or in part with local amendments.  The LGA Consultation document incorporating the draft Model Code of Conduct was attached as Appendix A to the Monitoring Officer’s report for Members’ consideration.

 

The Committee was aware that all Councils were required to have a local Member Code of Conduct and that Tendring District Council’s Members’ Code had been last reviewed and adopted by Full Council in 2018. The Code of Conduct was attached as Appendix B to the Monitoring Officer’s report for Members’ reference.

 

It was reported that the LGA draft Model Member Code of Conduct had been developed in consultation with the local government sector and that the LGA had committed to undertake an annual review of the Model Code in order to ensure it continued to be fit for purpose, particularly with respect to advances in technology, social media and any relevant changes in legislation.

 

Members were made aware that the draft Model Code covered its purpose and application, referred to the seven Principles of Public life, expressly stated what model member conduct as a councillor was expected and set out the minimum requirements through some specific obligations of general conduct.  Under each of the specific obligations the LGA had a created additional guidance.

 

Members were also made aware that, in responding to the consultation, the LGA was asking a number of questions via an online form, however they had produced an information document setting out those questions for responders to consider in advance. That information document was attached as Appendix C to the report. 

 

The Committee was advised that any individual whether an elected Member, Independent Person or Officer could respond to the consultation in their own right.  The purpose of the report before it was to establish whether an agreed formal response could be submitted on behalf of Tendring District Council.  Therefore Members of the Standards Committee were requested to give consideration to the questions set out in the aforementioned Appendix C. 

 

The Committee was further advised that responding to the consultation would not commit this Council to adopting the Model Member Code of Conduct, in full or in part.  The Monitoring Officer suggested that the Standards Committee would wish to consider each aspect, in detail, against a review of its existing Members’ Code of Conduct, which could be undertaken later in the year as part of its work programme once the final version of the LGA Model Code was launched.

 

The Monitoring Officer sought the Committee’s views, in particular, in respect of the following questions and matters:-

 

Question/Matter

 

Views expressed by the Committee (including the Independent Persons)

 

The length, quality, clarity etc. of the LGS Model Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Work Programme for 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 20 KB

The Committee is invited to give consideration to its work programme for the 2020/2021 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to its work programme for the 2020/2021 Municipal Year.

 

Members had before them a suggested work programme which had been submitted by the Monitoring Officer.

 

It was moved by Councillor Land, seconded by Councillor Wiggins and –

 

RESOLVED that the annual Work Programme for 2020/2021, as set out below, be approved –

 

14 October 2020 (provisional date)

 

  • Update on LGA Model Code of Conduct and commence review of Tendring District Council’s Code of Conduct

 

  • Review of Planning Probity Code and Protocol

 

  • Quarterly Complaints update by Monitoring Officer

 

3 February 2021 (provisional date)

 

  • Review of the Complaints Procedure

 

  • Case review and guidance update for the Committee on decisions and actions taken nationally; and

 

  • Quarterly Complaints update by Monitoring Officer

 

21 April 2021 (provisional date)

 

  • Update on Mandatory training;

 

  • Annual Report on declarations of interest (meetings, gifts and hospitality);

 

  • Work Programme 2021/2022; and

 

  • Quarterly Complaints update by Monitoring Officer

 

The Committee was aware that individual matters might be referred to the above meetings by the Monitoring Officer in accordance with the Committee’s Terms of Reference as necessary, for example an appeal against a dispensation decision or a code of conduct hearing.

7.

Discussion Topics and/or Updates from the Monitoring Officer

The Monitoring Officer will, inter alia, give a quarterly update on Complaints.

Minutes:

Quarterly Update on Complaints

 

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

 

The Monitoring Officer gave details as follows:-

 

Existing Cases since last update:

Council

 Complainant

Current Status

Final Outcome

Comments

 

Parish

Member of the Public

Closed

No further action

Independent Person consulted.

 

No further action to be taken by the District Council, as it was a private contractual matter but it was recommended to the relevant parties that they consider their actions with a view to improving relationships within the Parish.

 

District (x2)

Member of the Public

Closed

No further action

Ward Councillors had chosen not to respond to the individual, but their actions were not discriminatory as suggested.

 

Relevant Group Leaders were consulted. 

 

Councillors have been advised to consider their actions and the Council’s reputation if they continue to take this approach.

 

Complainant had then requested a review, no appeal process in place but under General Complaints Procedure, the Complainant was notified that nothing further would be done but was given a further reassurance that the Councillors concerned had been advised of the perception of their failure to engage with the resident.

New Cases since last update:

Council

Complainant

Current Status

Final Outcome

Comments

 

Parish

County Councillor

Closed

No further action

Deemed to be Politically motivated and the Parish Councillor had subsequently acknowledged that they had learnt from the minor error.

 

 

General Notes:

 

The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that she had delivered a second Code of Conduct training session to a number of Town and Parish Councillors on 18th February 2020, which had also been attended by a number of District Councillors. The session had been well received with positive feedback provided.

 

The Monitoring Officer reported that a complaint had been made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) concerning a previous matter that had been decided last year. The LG&SCO had decided to take no further action and not to investigate.  The LG&SCO had deemed that the Council’s Complaints Procedure had been followed, the correct assessment criteria had been applied and their involvement would not produce a different outcome.  

 

Dispensations:

 

The Monitoring Officer reported that there had been no requests for dispensations received from Members since the last update.

 

The Committee noted the foregoing.