Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Thursday, 24th January 2013 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Lancaster Town Hall

Contact: Peter Baines, Democratic Services - telephone 01524 582074 or email  pbaines@lancaster.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

68.

Minutes

Minutes of meeting held on 11th October 2012 (previously circulated). 

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting, held on 11th October 2012, were approved as a correct record.

69.

Items of Urgent Business authorised by the Chairman

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

70.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by members of interests in respect of items on this agenda. 

Members are reminded that, in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests. (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the register or at the meeting). 

Whilst not a legal requirement, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10 and in the interests of clarity and transparency, members should declare any disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the register, at this point in the meeting. 

In accordance with Part B Section 2 of the Code Of Conduct, members are required to declare the existence and nature of any other interests as defined in paragraphs 8(1) or 9(2) of the Code of Conduct. 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Hill declared an interest in items 8 and 9 on the agenda.

71.

Press Protocol and Members' Protocol for Standards Complaints pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Report of the Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced a report on the protocol for dealing with press enquiries about a standards complaint, and the protocol for members who were the subject of, or are aware of, a complaint.

 

At the previous meeting, the committee had considered a number of circumstances in which the press might inquire about the details of a complaint, and the following resolutions were agreed:

 

-           That the Monitoring Officer be requested to issue a response of no comment to the press in the event of enquiries at the initial stage of a complaint, and not to confirm receipt of a complaint at that stage;

 

-           That reports to Standards Committee which summarise recent complaints be exempt from publication. It was requested that the reports should, for the committee’s information, identify the member(s) complained of and the complainant;

 

-           That the Monitoring Officer be requested to issue statements to the press only after the final hearing of a complaint, but that in other cases where the press already have information about a complaint, the Monitoring Officer iaise with the member complained of in dealing with any press inquiry;

 

-           That the complainant and the member complained of be recommended not to speak to the press about a complaint until it has been resolved;

 

-           That the Monitoring Officer prepare a Press Protocol and revised Protocol on Publicity for Complaints of Breach of the Code of Conduct for consideration at a future meeting, based on the decisions taken at this meeting.

 

In considering the protocol for dealing with press enquiries about complaints to the Standards Committee, it was noted that later in the agenda there was an item where the appeals process had been used and members agreed that, in cases where standards complaints had been upheld against a councillor, the decision should not be made public until the person complained about had had the opportunity to go through the appeals process. In view of this, members considered adding wording to the protocol at the end of point 7: "...for release after any period for an appeal be lodged."

 

The Democratic Services Manager pointed out that the agenda item in question related to a complaint dealt with under an appeals process which was part of the old standards framework and this system had now been replaced. It was therefore agreed that the Democratic Services Manager should report back to members on whether or not an appeals process existed under the new framework and the protocol be brought back to the next meeting for consideration.

 

Resolved:

 

1)         That the protocol for dealing with press enquiries be brought back to the next Committee meeting for consideration with further information on the appeals process (if any) which exists for Members who have had a complaint against them upheld. 

 

2)         That the revised Members’ Protocol on Publicity for Complaints to the Standards Committee be approved.

 

3)         That the approval of Council Business Committee be sought for the inclusion of the revised Members’ Protocol in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The committee is recommended to pass the following recommendations in relation to the following items:-

 

“That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business, on the grounds that they could involve the possible disclosure of exempt information, as defined in paragraph 1 of Schedule 12A of that Act.”

 

Members are reminded that, whilst the following items have been marked as exempt, it is for the committee itself to decide whether or not to consider each of them in private or in public. In making the decision, members should consider the relevant paragraph of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, and also whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.  In considering their discretion, members should also be mindful of the advice of council officers. 

 

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

That in accordance with Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it could involve the possible disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 12A of that Act.

 

73.

Summary of Complaints

Report of the Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager introduced a report on Code of Conduct complaints received since the last meeting.

 

Resolved:

 

That the report be noted.

74.

Complaint 7/11 - Decision of the First Tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England)

Report of the Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the decision of the First Tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England) in respect of complaint 7/11, dealt with under the former standards regime.

 

Resolved:

 

That the decision of the First Tier Tribunal (Local Government Standards in England) be noted in respect of complaint 7/11.

75.

Complaint 4/12

This report will be sent to members under separate cover.

Minutes:

(Councillor Hill left the room for this item)

 

The committee considered the Investigating Officer’s report into complaint 4/12, which was dealt with under the former standards regime.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Investigating Officer’s finding of no breach of the Code of Conduct be accepted, thus concluding the complaint.