Agenda and minutes
Venue: The Thornton Room - Ground Floor, West Offices (G039). View directions
Contact: Fiona Young Democracy Officer
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare:
· any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests
· any prejudicial interests or
· any disclosable pecuniary interests
which they might have in respect of business on this agenda.
Members were asked to declare any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests, or any prejudicial interests or disclosable pecuniary interests which they might have in respect of business on the agenda. None were declared.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Standards Committee held on 5 September 2018.
Resolved: That the minutes of the Joint Standards Committee meeting held on 5 September 2018 be approved and signed as a correct record.
At this point in the meeting, members of the public who have registered their wish to speak, regarding an item on the agenda or an issue within the remit of the Joint Standards Committee, may do so. The deadline for registering is 5:00 pm on Tuesday, 20 November 2018. To register to speak please contact the Democracy Officer for the meeting. Contact details are at the foot of this agenda.
Filming or Recording Meetings
Residents are welcome to photograph, film or record Councillors and Officers at all meetings open to the press and public. This includes the use of social media reporting, i.e. tweeting. Anyone wishing to film, record or take photos at any public meeting should contact the Democracy Officer (whose contact details are at the foot of this agenda) in advance of the meeting.
The Council’s protocol on Webcasting, Filming & Recording of Meetings ensures that these practices are carried out in a manner both respectful to the conduct of the meeting and all those present. It can be viewed at http://www.york.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/11406/protocol_for_webcasting_filming_and_recording_of_council_meetings_20160809.pdf
It was reported that there had been no registrations to speak at the meeting under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme.
To receive a routine update report on recent standards complaints.
Members received a routine update report on recent standards complaints. Since the committee’s last meeting in September, one ongoing case had been concluded and six new cases had come forward. Details were set out in the table at paragraph 2 of the report.
An issue was raised with regard to the convening of a Hearings Sub-Committee to hear one of the cases on the list. Following a discussion, Cllr Cannon announced her intention to resign from the Joint Standards Committee. She left the meeting at this point.
Members expressed concerns about the time taken to finalise investigations in some cases and the costs resulting from this. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that these issues would be examined once the ongoing cases had been concluded.
The Chair and Members wished to place on record their thanks to Cllr Cannon for her work on the Joint Standards Committee.
Resolved: That the report be noted.
Reason: To ensure that the committee is aware of current levels of activity and that the standards complaints system is used for its primary purpose.
This report provides an update on the progress of the Task Group with regard to reviewing the procedures for dealing with complaints about Councillors’ conduct.
Members considered a report which provided an update on the progress of the Task Group in reviewing the procedures for dealing with complaints about Councillors’ conduct.
The Task Group had suggested amendments to the Complaints Procedure, as set out in Annex 1 to the report, and created a flow chart and an Independent Persons’ Protocol, attached as Annexes 2 and 3 respectively.
The Task Group had also considered consultation comments on the proposed revised Code of Conduct and was not minded to make any changes. However, the committee had already said they wanted to ensure issues arising from ongoing cases were addressed before recommending the revised code to Council.
After a full discussion, it was
Resolved: (i) That the amended Complaints Procedure at Annex 1 be approved and adopted, subject to the following additional amendments to the text on page 5 (p.17 of the agenda papers):
· Remove the reference to ‘his powers’ in the last sentence under the heading ‘Will your complaint be investigated’.
· Re-word the first part of the last paragraph under the heading ‘How is the investigation conducted’ to read as follows:
‘Investigations will be completed within three months of the investigator being instructed. If there are good reasons why this is not possible...’
(ii) That the complaints flow chart at Annex 2 be approved and adopted, subject to the council’s Communications team being asked to improve the design of the chart and make it clearer.
(iii) That the Independent Persons’ Protocol at Annex 3 be approved and adopted.
Reason: To ensure that the procedures adopted by the Committee remain fit for purpose.
(iv) That the Code of Conduct be brought back to the committee for approval and recommendation to Council at a later meeting, once the current ongoing complaints hearings have been concluded.
Reason: To ensure that any issues arising from the ongoing cases are addressed.
This report advises Members of a recent High Court decision that has implications for the Committee and the councils for which it has responsibilities.
Members considered a report which advised them of a recent High Court decision that had implications for the Committee and the Councils for which it was responsible.
Details of the case and decision were set out in paragraphs 2 to 9 of the report. Essentially, the High Court had ruled in favour of a councillor who challenged the Town Council’s decision to impose sanctions against her under its grievance procedures. This had shed doubt on the extent to which grievance procedures could be used to deal with complaints by employees against councillors.
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) had written to government and the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) to express concern that confining all complaints about councillors to the code of conduct process would over-burden monitoring officers and lead to delays. As the CSPL was currently reviewing local government arrangements, the matter might well be picked up by them.
Following a discussion of the issues raised by the case, it was
Resolved: That the report be noted.
Reason: To confirm that the committee is aware of this important case.
To consider the Committee’s work plan for the current year and decide whether any amendments or additions are required.
Members considered the committee’s work plan for the current municipal year.
Resolved: That the work plan be approved, subject to the allocation of the following item to the meeting on 13 February 2019:
· the City Council’s Whistleblowing Policy and its link to ethical standards (provided this has been considered by the Audit & Governance Committee in December 2018).
Reason: To ensure that the committee has a planned programme of work in place.