Agenda and draft minutes

Single Purpose Standards Committee
Wednesday, 6th March 2019 10.00 a.m.

Venue: Lancaster Town Hall

Contact: Liz Bateson, Democratic Services - tel: (01524) 582047 or email:  ebateson@lancaster.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

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 9 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:

Councillors Phillippa Williamson and Stuart Bateson advised the meeting that they were both members of Morecambe & Lunesdale Conservative Association, which was referred to within the papers, and were acquainted with the Solicitors that had been engaged by one of the subject members.

2.

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 item(s) of business, 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(s) have been marked as exempt, it is for 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 unanimously:

 

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 12A of that Act.

 

3.

Standards Complaint

Minutes:

The Single Purpose Standards Committee Hearing had been convened following an investigation into other matters had revealed the possibility that the Members’ Code of Conduct may have been breached.  The Hearing was held to determine whether the code had been breached and what, if any sanctions should be imposed.  The Independent Person was present in an advisory, non-voting capacity.

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer circulated a communication received from one of the subject members which requested an adjournment of the Hearing.  The Deputy Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that one of the subject members had confirmed an unwillingness to participate in the process.

 

In accordance with procedure, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 11.05am in order for the Committee to decide whether to adjourn the Hearing.  Mr Hart, Independent Counsel, the Deputy Monitoring Officer and the Principal Democratic Support left the meeting at this point.  On reconvening at 11.43am the Chairman confirmed that the Committee had unanimously agreed not to adjourn the Hearing.

 

Mr Hart, presented the report of the Deputy Monitoring Officer and the evidence against each Councillor.  This included hearing from Councillors Mace and Hartley. 

 

The meeting adjourned at 12.55pm for refreshments and reconvened at 13.30pm.

 

On reconvening, the Council’s internal investigator was invited to give evidence to the Committee.  In accordance with Hearing procedure, Committee Members asked questions of the witnesses.  Mr Hart then summarised the alleged breaches of conduct with regard to each subject member, detailed in an exempt minute, and invited the subject member in attendance to make a closing statement.

 

The meeting adjourned at 3.25pm to determine whether in their opinion the subject members had breached the Members’ Code of Conduct.  The Hearing reconvened at 4.50pm.

 

On reconvening, the Chairman confirmed that the Committee had found each member in breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct:

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)          Councillor Wild had bullied a member of staff in an attempt to obtain sensitive information with the intent to pass that information to other people and had brought the Council and Office of Councillor into disrepute.

 

(2)          Councillor Gardiner had misled officers, failed to co-operate in the Standards Investigation and attempted to intimidate, control and influence the investigation and had brought the Council and Office of Councillor into disrepute.

 

 

Mr Hart suggested that the meeting be adjourned in order for the subject members to be made aware of the Committee’s findings and enable them to make mitigating statements prior to any sanctions being imposed.  It was agreed that the meeting would reconvene on Monday 11 March at 5.00pm.

 

The Hearing adjourned at 5.13pm on Thursday 6 March and reconvened at 5.00pm on Monday 11 March 2019.

 

On reconvening representations had been received from the subject members, none of whom were in attendance.  The representations included a further request to adjourn the Hearing and the meeting briefly adjourned at 5.02pm to enable the Committee to read the representations and consider whether the Committee wished to adjourn. At 5.25pm the meeting reconvened and the Chairman advised that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.