Agenda item

To present the Committee with an overview on the register of, and declarations of, interests made by Members from 1 April 2021 until 21 January 2022.


Members recalled that it had been agreed at the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 29 June 2016 that, as part of its annual work programme, the Committee would receive an annual report on declarations of interest and associated matters.  The report now before the Committee covered the period from 1 April 2021 to 21 January 2022 and provided statistics on:-


·      the number of declarations of interest made at meetings;

·      the number of offers of gifts and hospitality that have been registered by Members during this period; and

·      updates to the Members’ Register of Interests.


The data had been collated from the Committee IT system which the Council had started using as of August 2016 and from Members’ submissions.


Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests


The Committee was aware that the Council was required to publish the ‘Register of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests’ on its website in accordance with the Localism Act 2011 and The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012, which prescribed the categories of interests.


It was confirmed that the Council’s website included a Register of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests for all District Councillors and this was updated, when an individual Member provided details of an amendment directly to the Monitoring Officer.  Any entry, which was relevant to a business item on an agenda, must be declared by the individual Member and they must subsequently remove themselves from the meeting, unless a prior dispensation had been granted by the Monitoring Officer.


Two individual dispensations had been requested and granted during the relevant period.


Declarations of interest at meetings


Members were required to declare Personal and Disclosable Pecuniary Interests at meetings and those recorded on the committee system, as declared by District Councillors for the period 1 April 2021 to 21 January 2022 were set out in Appendix A to the Monitoring Officer’s report.  Minutes of the meetings also record the declarations.


Use of Blanket dispensations


The Committee was reminded that the Members’ Code of Conduct at paragraph 7.3, as agreed by full Council in January 2018, contained blanket dispensations for any business of the Authority where that business related to the Council’s functions in respect of:


i.        housing, where the Member is a tenant of the Authority provided that those functions do not relate particularly to their tenancy or lease;

ii.      school meals or school transport and travelling expenses, where the Member is a parent or guardian of a child in full time education, or are a parent governor of a school, unless it relates particularly to the school which the child attends;

iii.     statutory sick pay under Part XI of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, where the Member is in receipt of, or are entitled to the receipt of, such pay;

iv.     an allowance, payment or indemnity given to Members;

v.      any ceremonial honour given to Members; and

vi.     setting Council Tax or a Precept under the Local Government Finance Act 1992


Since their introduction, some of those blanket dispensations had been called upon at meetings of the Cabinet and full Council.


Declarations of offers/receipt of gifts and hospitality


Following the Standards Committee’s review of the Council’s Gift and Hospitality Policy for Members, new guidance and a notification form had been issued to all District Councillors in May 2016.  There had been no recorded declarations of offers/receipt of gifts and hospitality made by District Councillors in the time period covered by this report.


Updates to Members’ Register of Interests


Since the new Members’ Code of Conduct had been adopted to take effect in April 2018, Members had been required to register details of their Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and their Personal Interests 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.  Personal Interests were defined in Paragraph 5 of the Code as relating to, or is likely to affect, any item of business of the Authority within any of the six categories as set out in 5.1 (a) to (f).


It was reported that, following Guidance and a Notification Form being issued in 2018, Members were advised to register their Personal Interests with the Monitoring Officer.  In the time period covered by this report one Member had registered a Personal Interest (on two separate occasions) with the Monitoring Officer. To date those forms had not been published on the Council’s website but retained within a central register.  The most common declarations were made under paragraph 5.1 (d) being -


any other body of which the Councillor is a member and in which they hold a position of general control or management –


(i)    exercising functions of a public nature;

(ii)   directed to charitable purposes; or

(iii)   one of whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy (including any political party or trade union);”


The Monitoring Officer reminded the Committee that it was Members’ individual responsibility to declare their interests at a meeting and that they should be clear, detailed and precise in the wording of their declaration in order that the Minutes of the meeting accurately recorded that declaration of interest.


Having duly considered and discussed the contents of the report:-


It was RESOLVED that the Committee notes the contents of this report.

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