Local democracy during coronavirus

During coronavirus, we've made some changes to how we're running council meetings. See our coronavirus updates for more information on meetings and decisions.

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: The George Hudson Board Room - 1st Floor West Offices (F045). View directions

Contact: Fiona Young  Interim Democratic Services Manager

Items
No. Item

5.

Appointment of Chair

To appoint a member to chair the meeting.

 

Minutes:

Resolved:  That Cllr Carr be appointed to act as Chair of the meeting.

6.

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.

 

Minutes:

Members were invited to declare any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests, or any prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interests, which they might have in the business on the agenda.  No interests were declared.

7.

Urgent Business - Exclusion of Press and Public

Any other business which the Chair considers urgent under the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

The Chair introduced this item under urgent business on the basis that, although there were no exempt papers on the agenda, it may be necessary to exclude the press and public during certain parts of the meeting.

 

Resolved:  That the Press and Public be excluded from the meeting if at any point Members request legal advice in private, and during their deliberations and decision at the end of the meeting.

8.

Public Participation

At this point in the meeting members of the public who have registered to speak can do so. Members of the public may speak at this meeting on agenda items only.

 

Please note that our registration deadlines have changed to 2 working days before the meeting.  The deadline for registering at this meeting is 5:00pm on Friday, 3 September 2021. 

 

To register to speak please visit www.york.gov.uk/AttendCouncilMeetings to fill in an online registration form.  If you have any questions about the registration form or the meeting, please contact Democratic Services.  Contact details can be found at the foot of this agenda.

 

Webcasting of Public Meetings

 

Please note that, subject to available resources, this meeting will be webcast, including any registered public speakers who have given their permission. The meeting can be viewed live and on demand at www.york.gov.uk/webcasts.

 

During coronavirus, we've made some changes to how we're running council meetings. See our coronavirus updates (www.york.gov.uk/COVIDDemocracy) for more information on meetings and decisions.

 

Minutes:

It was reported that there had been four registrations to speak at the meeting regarding Agenda Item 4 (Complaint Against a Member of City of York Council).

 

Jill Edwards, Chair of Kexby & Scoreby Parish Council, stated that on the basis of her experience of Cllr Warters since he became a ward councillor in 2015, the allegations against him were untrue, and that there was no evidence to support them.

 

Peter Broadley, Chairman of Holtby Parish Council, said he had known Cllr Warters for over 20 years, that he was honest, hardworking and never disrespectful to residents, and the complaint was trivial and did not warrant investigation.

 

Wendy Maddocks, as a long-term resident of Osbaldwick and member of Osbaldwick Parish Council, said she had known Cllr Warters for many years; the only aggression she had witnessed had been from the complainant at a parish council meeting, and she was astonished that the complaint was being considered.

 

Gwen Swinburn commented on the complaints process, which she described as ‘surreal’, stating that the complaint should have been dismissed by the Monitoring Officer and that it had been treated differently from a previous complaint against the Council Leader.

 

 

 

9.

Complaint Against a Member of City of York Council pdf icon PDF 501 KB

To consider a complaint made against Cllr Mark Warters, a Member of City of York Council, which has been referred to the Hearings Sub-Committee for determination following an investigation.

 

Details of the procedure to be followed at the hearing can be found at pages 35 to 39 of the agenda papers.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

ATTENDANCE:

 

Panel Members of the Hearings Sub-Committee:

Cllr D Carr – Chair

Cllr R Baker

Cllr S Rawlings (Parish Councillor and Vice Chair of the Joint Standards Committee)

 

Advisors to the Hearings Sub-Committee:

Mr D Laverick – Independent Person

Miss J Berry – Monitoring Officer, City of York Council

Mrs R Antonelli – Deputy Monitoring Officer, City of York Council

 

Investigating Officer:

Mr G Allen, Senior Solicitor, City of York Council

Mr Allen sent his apologies as he was absent from work for personal reasons

 

Subject Member:

Cllr M Warters – City of York Councillor (Osbaldwick and Derwent Ward)

Cllr Warters chose not to attend

 

Complainant:

 

Mr Moore

Mr Moore was not in attendance and sent his apologies.  Mr Moore’s representative, who was acting in the capacity of a friend, Mr Arif Khalfe was in attendance.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Hearing Sub-Committee

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 Councillor M Warters.

 

The procedure for the conduct of the Sub-Committee was circulated to all Parties as part of the agenda for the Sub-Committee.

 

The hearing took place in public with the agreement of all parties and the Panel made the decision to exclude the press and public for the following aspects of the hearing:

 

·        Instances whereby the Panel seeks legal advice;

·        Deliberations by the Panel Members; and

·        Decision-making prior to the public declaration of the decision.

 

The Complaint

The Panel was concerned with a complaint made in relation to the conduct of Councillor M Warters by Mr J Moore of the York Foot Clinic, Hull Road, York.  The complaint was submitted on 3rd January 2021.

 

The Panel received a report from Mr G Allen, Senior Solicitor with City of York Council who had been appointed by the Monitoring Officer to investigate the complaint.  Mr Allen was appointed as a Deputy Monitoring Officer for the purposes of undertaking this particular investigation.  Mr Allen was instructed to follow the published procedure when undertaking his investigation.

 

Mr Allen’s report is dated 11th March 2021, and a copy of the same was circulated to all as part of the agenda for the Sub-Committee hearing.

 

Witnesses

The Panel decided at the outset that their sole focus was limited to the complaint made by Mr Moore, namely the telephone conversation which took place between Mr Moore and Councillor Warters on Saturday 28 November 2020.

 

The Panel considered the allegations in light of the Joint Standards Committee’s published criteria for the assessment of complaints.

 

EVIDENCE AND FINDINGS OF FACT

The Complainant operates a business called York Foot Clinic from premises located at 289 Hull Road, York which is within the Osbaldwick and Derwent Ward.

 

On 27th November 2020, the complainant was aware that fencing had been erected on behalf of the Council on grassed land opposite properties along Hull Road, including on land which it transpires is registered at the Land Registry as being in  ...  view the full decision text for item 9.

Minutes:

The Panel considered a complaint made against Cllr Mark Warters, a City of York Councillor, by Mr Jason Moore.  The complaint related to the behaviour of Cllr Warters towards the complainant during a telephone call.       

 

The matter had been referred to the Hearings Sub-Committee for determination following an investigation.

 

Introductions were carried out and the procedure for the hearing was explained.

 

Determining factual disputes

 

Copies of the investigator’s report and the written submissions received had been circulated to the Panel and to the parties prior to the meeting.  During the meeting the Panel took advice from the Monitoring Officer, the Deputy Monitoring Officer, and the Independent Person.

 

The investigating officer was not present at the hearing.

 

Neither the Subject Member nor the Complainant were present at the hearing.  The Complainant was represented by a friend, Mr Arif Khalfe, who made submissions on behalf of the Complainant and responded to questions from the Panel.

 

[The meeting then went into private session whilst the Panel made their deliberations and returned to public session for the Panel to announce their findings]

 

The Panel gave consideration to the following allegation of breaches of the Code of Conduct:

 

That Councillor Warters’ alleged behaviour during the telephone conversation failed to adhere to the following principles upon which the Code of Conduct is specified as being based: 

·        Openness,

·        Accountability,

·        Treating others with respect,

·        Bullying and Intimidation,

·        Equality enactment/Legislation

·        Bringing the Council into disrepute.

 

 

Panel’s Findings

 

Having considered the written documentation and the verbal representations made at the meeting, the Panel

 

Resolved:  That the complaint be dismissed.

 

Reasons:   (i)      In the absence of both the subject Member and the Complainant at this hearing it has proved impossible to have the opportunity to hear direct evidence as to the conduct, manner and tone of the telephone call in question.  In the absence of any other relevant evidence being brought to the Panel’s attention it has not, in our opinion, been possible to make a direct link between the telephone conversation and the email in the investigating officer’s report.

 

(ii)      The email referred to in the Investigating Officer’s report does not, in the Panel’s opinion, cast sufficient light on the conduct or tone of the subject or relevant telephone conversation.  There is no evidence presented to the Panel that there has been a breach of the Code of Conduct.

 

(iii)     The Panel reminds itself that the only witnesses to the telephone call were the complainant, Mr Moore, and the subject Member, Councillor Warters.  In the absence of any evidence it has not been possible for the Panel to determine whether or not Councillor Warters breached the Code of Conduct. 

 

Determining Sanctions

 

No sanctions were determined, as the complaint was dismissed.

 

 

[The Decision Notice issued following this meeting has been published alongside these minutes]

 

 

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