Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Thursday, 11th January 2024 6.10 p.m.

Venue: Lancaster Town Hall

Contact: Liz Bateson, Democratic Support - email 

No. Item



Minutes of meeting held on 6 July 2023 (previously circulated). 


The Minutes of the meeting held on 6 July 2023 were agreed as a correct record.


Items of Urgent Business authorised by the Chair


There were no items of urgent business.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Councillors of interests in respect of items on this Agenda. 

Councillors 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 9 and in the interests of clarity and transparency, Councillors 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, Councillors 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. 



There were no declarations of interest.


Councillors' Code of Conduct - Councillors Gifts and Hospitality pdf icon PDF 323 KB

Report of the Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer presented a report for the Committee to consider  recommending to Council, or Council Business Committee (CBC), that wording be added to the Code of Conduct for Councillors. The wording provided further information for Members on acceptance and refusal of offers of gifts and hospitality and the requirements to declare such offers, whether accepted or not. A revised declaration form was also included with the report for recommendation to Council/CBC.


The Standards Committee was responsible for considering any revisions to the Code of Conduct for Councillors and making recommendations to Council or Council Business Committee for approval of such revisions. Currently the Code of Conduct, in Part 4, Section 2 of the Constitution, made brief reference to Gifts and Hospitality. The Council’s Internal Audit carried out an audit of interests in late 2022, and among the actions agreed in January 2023 were that “The Councillors' Code of Conduct should be updated to ensure that it comprehensively sets out the information requirements to be recorded when declaring a gift or hospitality” and that Democratic Support would review the Member Declaration Forms for gifts and hospitality.


The proposed revision to the Constitution and revised declaration form to address the issues raised during the audit was presented to the Committee for their endorsement and referral to Council or CBC for approval. After some discussion the Committee agreed that the Council Business Committee would be the most suitable Committee to approve the change but that on this occasion it would be appropriate to recommend that CBC refer the proposed revision once approved, to full Council to ensure that all councillors were aware of and able to adhere to the revision.


It was proposed by Councillor Wood, seconded by Councillor Riches and agreed unanimously when put to the vote:


“that the Standards Committee recommend to the Council Business Committee that the revisions as set out in the report be approved and that the Council Business Committee be requested to report the revisions, once agreed,  to full Council for noting.”


Resolved unanimously:


(1)             That the Standards Committee recommend that the Council Business Committee approve the following revision to the Constitution with a new paragraph 13 titled “Offers of Gifts and Hospitality”:


“Councillors should not normally accept gifts or hospitality. While gifts or hospitality can be offered for benign reasons it is important for your reputation, the reputation of the City Council and for the reassurance of the public that decision-making is not being improperly influenced, that you do not routinely accept gifts or hospitality offered to you as a Councillor.


You must notify the Monitoring Officer in writing of details of any gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £50 that you have received in connection with your role as a Councillor, and details of the donor. Forms are on the Intranet HERE (a link to the form will be provided) for Councillors. However, simply accepting gifts or hospitality and then registering it does not mean that it may be seen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Exclusion of the Press and Public

Whilst the report is public it contains an exempt appendix, and the Committee is recommended to pass the following recommendation in relation to the following item:-


“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 if the Committee are minded to refer to the exempt appendix, on the grounds that it 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 item includes an exempt appendix, it is for Committee itself to decide whether or not to consider it 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.


That, in accordance with Section 110A(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 Paragraph 1 of Schedule 12 A of that Act.


Summary of Complaints under the Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 204 KB

Report of the Monitoring Officer

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer presented a report, which advised the Committee about the progress of current complaints and any other code of conduct complaints received since the last report on 6 July 2023. During the discussions concern was raised at the complaints relating to parish councillors and suggestions were made as to what the City Council could do to address this by way of guidance and training.  It was agreed that the Chair would write to parish clerks and would share the draft letter with the Committee for their endorsement prior to sending out to the parishes.




(1)             That the report be noted.


(2)             That the Chair write to parish clerks outlining the suggestions made by the Committee to reduce the number of complaints relating to parish councillors.