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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 submitted on behalf of Councillors V E Guglielmi (with no substitute), J Henderson (with no substitute) and Skeels (with no substitute) and Sue Gallone (one of the Council’s four Independent Persons).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee, held on Wednesday 6 April 2022.
It was moved by Councillor Land, seconded by Councillor Steady and:-
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Wednesday 6 April 2022 be approved as a correct record and be 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 no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this time.
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.
No Questions on Notice had been submitted by Members pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38 on this occasion.
To continue the review of the elected Members’ Model Code of Conduct (the Model Code) as authored by the Local Government Association (LGA), in comparison to Tendring District Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct (the TDC Code), for eventual determination as to whether to recommend the Model Code to Full Council for adoption.
Further to Minute 30 (6.4.22) the Committee continued its review of the elected Members’ Model Code of Conduct (“the Model Code”) as authored by the Local Government Association (LGA), in comparison to Tendring District Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct (“the TDC Code”), for eventual determination as to whether to recommend the Model Code to Full Council for adoption.
The current adopted Members’ Code of Conduct, as detailed within Part 6 of the Council’s Constitution was attached as Appendix A to the Monitoring Officer’s report. The Code set out the standards, values and rules of conduct that elected Members of Tendring District Council were expected to abide by.
The LGA’s Model Code was attached at Appendix B to the Monitoring Officer’s report. The aim of the Model Code was to provide consistency for Members across Parish, Town, District and County Councils, especially for those Members representing two or more electorates (also known as ‘dual or triple hatters’). Guidance issued by the LGA on the Model Code was attached at Appendix C to the Monitoring Officer’s report.
The Committee recalled that, at its last meeting held on 6 April 2022 (Minute 30 referred), it had been appraised of the differences between the Rules of Conduct within the TDC Code compared with the Model Code and that the provisions relating to interests would be considered separately at this meeting.
To that end it was reported that the TDC Code had two types of Members’ Interests namely Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) and Personal Interests. The Model Code referred to those as Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registrable Interests and Non-Registerable Interests. It could appear from first glance that the Model Code either covered interests in more detail or had introduced an additional type; however in essence they were broadly similar as the TDC Code, albeit condensed under its two headings.
Under both the TDC Code and the Model Code, it remained the responsibility of the individual Member to keep their registration of interests complete, up to date and accurate.
The TDC Code stated that Members were required to register details of their Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and their Personal Interests (that a Member was aware of at the time) within 28 days of becoming a Member (or being re-elected or reappointed) or a change in those details, in the Authority’s Register of Interests. The Model Code required DPIs and only those personal interests which fell within the categories set out in Table 2, defined as Other Registerable Interests, to be registered.
Within the “Current Position” section of her report, the Monitoring Officer had endeavoured to explain (as summarised below), the differences between the interest provisions within the Codes. Upon review, the main difference to highlight was the impact of Paragraph 9 within the TDC Code being withdrawn from all types of Personal Interests although a test was still applied to those Non-Registerable Interests within the Model Code which ‘affected’ the interest.
1. DPI provisions within each Code
Whilst the Codes were worded and formatted differently, the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To enable the Committee to comment on the Independent Remuneration Panel’s and Independent Persons’ term of office, exploring alternative options and future recruitment, with consideration to recommendations to full Council.
The Committee considered the Independent Remuneration Panel’s and Independent Persons’ terms of office, with the aim of exploring alternative options as to future recruitment, with a view to making recommendations to full Council on this matter.
Members were reminded that, at its meeting held on 27 November 2018, full Council had agreed the appointment of Mr David Irvine, Mrs Clarissa Gosling, Mrs Jane Watts and Mrs Sue Gallone as the Council’s Independent Remuneration Panel for the purposes of making recommendations to Council on Members’ allowances. Those four persons had been also confirmed as the Council’s Independent Persons for the purposes of standards arrangements. Those appointments were in place until the Annual Meeting of the Council in May 2023.
The Committee was advised that Full Council had last considered the Members’ Allowances Scheme in September 2020 together with the related recommendations from the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP). It had been highlighted that, if the Council approved a Scheme of Allowances for the following two financial years (being 2021/22 and 2022/23) the next scheduled time for the IRP to review the Allowances Scheme for this Council would be prior to the start of 2023/24 and that therefore this would concern the Scheme of Allowances to be paid following the scheduled elections to this Council in May 2023.
Therefore, without alternative arrangements in place, there would be a need to recruit a new Independent Remuneration Panel and new Independent Persons in time to make new formal appointments at Annual Council in May 2023, whilst simultaneously undertaking a review on the Members’ Allowance Scheme, with the support of officers in the late Autumn/early Winter 2022.
Recruitment and alternative options
It was reported that with regard to the roles of Independent Persons for the Ethical Standards arrangements, a pool of Independent Persons was available through the Public Law Partnership (which covered Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk) that could be called on by any authority, subject to the necessary approvals through formal appointments. Those arrangements were considered to be appropriate to use where capacity or conflicts of interest were an issue. Whilst this Council (TDC) had approved and adopted this flexibility, using the pool had not yet been required due to TDC having four Independent Persons. Therefore, it was still considered prudent for TDC to continue appointing its own Independent Persons whilst retaining the flexibility of a wider pool to call upon if necessary.
It was noted that the Independent Persons and the Independent Remuneration Panel could continue as joint appointments or be separated.
It was suggested that this Council could also look to alternative arrangements such as joint Independent Remuneration Panels with other Councils, either on a flexible or a formal basis. Early research had indicated that a small number of Councils might be interested in a joint approach, but no commitments could be made at this time, therefore, any recruitment undertaken by TDC, would have to reflect some flexibility within its recommendations to Full Council.
Since the previous recruitment undertaken in 2018, the Committee on ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To enable the Committee to appoint Tendring District Council’s members to serve on the Town and Parish Councils’ Standards Sub-Committee for the 2022/2023 Municipal Year.
The Committee was reminded that Article 9 (Standards Committee and Town & Parish Councils’ Standards Sub-Committee) of the Council’s Constitution stated that the Council would have, in place, a Town & Parish Councils’ Standards Sub-Committee with the following terms of reference:-
“To advise and assist Town and Parish Councils and Councillors to maintain high standards of conduct and to make recommendations to Parish and Town Councils on improving standards or actions following a finding of a failure by a Parish Councillor to comply with its Code of Conduct.” [Article 9.05]
It was reported that Article 9.05 also required the Sub-Committee to consist of three members of the Standards Committee and three non-voting co-opted Town & Parish Council members nominated by the Tendring District Association of Local Councils (TDALC). In addition, the nominated Town & Parish Council members would be of an independent standing and they would not have served as a District Councillor or as a County Councillor for a period of four years prior to their nomination.
Members recalled that the Standards Committee, at its meeting held on 9 July 2019 (Minute 9 referred), had appointed Councillors Nicola Overton, Graham Steady and Ann Wiggins to serve on the Town and Parish Councils’ Standards Sub-Committee.
However, since that time, Nicola Overton had ceased to be a member of Tendring District Council and Ann Wiggins had not been re-appointed as a member of the Standards Committee at the Annual Meeting of the Council held on 26 April 2022.
Members were informed that the Committee Services Manager (Ian Ford) had contacted TDALC with a view to them confirming their nominations for the Sub-Committee. Dr Benjamin Newman Wright, Lawford Parish Councillor and the Secretary of TDALC, had responded by email on 16 June 2022 as follows:-
“Two Representatives were unanimously approved by TDALC Representatives at our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 25th May 2022, namely:
Councillor Linda Belgrove (Chair, TDALC) (Representative: Alresford Parish Council); and
Councillor Frank Belgrove (Vice Chair, TDALC) (Representative: Alresford Parish Council.
The only Representative on your [previous] list serving with the Tendring District Association of Local Councils is Councillor Robert Taylor. He was unable to participate in our AGM. I understand that we will consider formally adding a Third Representative at our next TDALC Meeting.”
In the light of the above, the Committee was requested to now appoint Tendring District Council’s members to serve on the Town and Parish Councils’ Standards Sub-Committee for the 2022/2023 Municipal Year.
It was moved by Councillor Land, seconded by Councillor Steadyand:-
RESOLVED that the Standards Committee:-
(a) appoints Councillors Casey, Placey and Steady to serve on the Town and Parish Councils’ Standards Sub-Committee for the 2022/2023 Municipal Year;
(b) notes, welcomes and endorses that the Tendring District Association of Local Councils (TDALC) has appointed Parish Councillors Frank Belgrove and Linda Belgrove as two of their three non-voting, co-opted members of that Sub-Committee; and
(c) further notes that TDALC will notify the Council of its third non-voting, co-opted member of that Sub-Committee in due course.
The Committee will receive the Monitoring Officer’s quarterly update regarding standards complaints together with an update on other pertinent matters.
The Committee had before it the Monitoring Officer’s quarterly schedule, which updated it on existing and new conduct complaint cases, along with other matters.
The Committee noted the foregoing.