Agenda, decisions and minutes
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Appointment of Chair
To appoint a member to chair the meeting.
Resolved: That Cllr Rawlings be appointed to act as Chair of the meeting.
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 may have in respect of business on this agenda.
Members were invited to declare at this point in the meeting any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests, or any prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interests, that they might have in the business on the agenda. No interests were declared.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider excluding the public and press from the meeting during consideration of the private report at Agenda Item 4 (Code of Conduct Complaint received in respect of a City of York Councillor), on the grounds that it contains information relating to an individual. This information is classed as exempt under paragraph 1 of Schedule 12A to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.
Resolved: That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the private report at Agenda Item 4 (Code of Conduct Complaint received in respect of a City of York Councillor), on the grounds that it contains information relating to an individual, which is classed as exempt under paragraph 1 of Schedule 12A to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.
To review the draft report of the Investigating Officer as a result of a Code of Conduct complaint made in respect of a City of York Councillor.
Note: the private report referred to in Agenda Item 3 above follows the public report on this item.
Members of the Assessment Sub-Committee:
Cllr S Rawlings (Parish Councillor and Vice Chair of the Joint Standards Committee) – Chair
Cllr C Douglas
Cllr T Fisher
The Sub-Committee was constituted in accordance with procedures approved by the City of York Council Joint Standards Committee to consider a complaint in relation to the conduct of a City of York Councillor.
The Sub-Committee had previously considered a draft report of the Investigating Officer appointed by the Monitoring Officer on 23 April 2021. At that meeting, the Sub-Committee recommended that further investigation needed to take place. The Investigating Officer conducted the additional areas of investigation and prepared a supplement to their draft report to take account of this additional work.
The Investigating Officer found that the Councillor did not breach the Code of Conduct because at the material time the Councillor was not acting as a Councillor and was acting in their personal capacity.
The Assessment Sub-Committee accepted that it is unusual to issue a decision notice at the assessment stage of a Code of Conduct complaint, however, the Sub-Committee felt it was necessary on this occasion as they were concerned with the conduct leading to the investigation and also the nature of the complaints made.
The Assessment Sub-Committee considered the Investigating Officer’s report and determined that the draft investigating officer’s report was complete and the finding of no breach of the Code of Conduct was accepted, on the basis that the Councillor was acting as a private individual, not as a Councillor at the material time. As a result of this, no further action is to be taken and the matter is brought to a close. The Sub-Committee would like to put on record that they were deeply concerned about the complaints, however, whilst disappointed, they noted the repeated apologies made by the Councillor.
The decision of the Assessment Sub-Committee will be reported to the Joint Standards Committee at their next meeting.
The Assessment Sub-Committee also considered whether the Councillor should be identified in this decision notice, they weighed up the views and considerations for all parties involved and determined that it was not in the public interest to identify the Councillor.
The Assessment Sub-Committee note that all City Councillors are receiving Code of Conduct training on the LGA Model Code of Conduct which will include issues raised as a result of this matter. Further training around specific areas of the Model Code of Conduct, including social media training, will also be offered to all Councillors in due course and the LGA have issued guidance around key parts of the Model Code, which the Assessment Sub-Committee are pleased to note.
Councillor S Rawlings
Councillor C Douglas
Councillor T Fisher
Members considered an updated report produced by the Investigating Officer in respect of a complaint against a City of York Councillor, following the Sub-Committee’s request on 23 April 2021 that further investigation be carried out in relation to the complaint.
After completing the further investigation, the Investigating Officer had concluded that the Councillor in question did not breach the Code of Conduct.
Details of the complaint and circumstances were presented in the exempt report. The draft investigation report was attached as exempt Annex A. Members were asked to consider whether to:
A. Rule that the draft investigation report was not complete and that further investigation should take place;
B. Rule that the report was complete and that the finding made was accepted; or
C. Rule that the report was complete but that the finding made was not accepted.
Following discussion in private session in accordance with the resolution in Minute 19 above, it was
Resolved: (i) That option B be approved and the Investigating Officer’s finding that the Councillor did not breach the Code of Conduct be accepted.
Reason: On the basis that the Councillor was acting as a private individual, and not as a councillor, at the material time.
(ii) That the Sub-Committee place on record their deep concern about the complaints; however, whilst disappointed, they note the repeated apologies made by the Councillor.