Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Monday 25 January 2021 9.30 am

Venue: virtual

Contact: Fiona Baker on 01243 534609  Email:  fbaker@chichester.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

9.

Chairman's Announcements

Any apologies for absence which have been received will be noted at this stage.

 

There will be announced at this stage any urgent items which, due to special circumstances, will be dealt with as late items under agenda item 8.

Minutes:

Mr Plowman welcomed everyone present.

 

Apologies for absence had been received from Mrs Susan Taylor and Mr Ray Cooper (Lurgashall Parish Council) one of the three Parish Council representatives.

 

Mr Plowman confirmed that there were no urgent items for consideration under agenda item 7.

10.

Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 81 KB

The Standards Committee will be asked to note the minutes of the previous meeting which took place on Thursday 10 September 2015.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 10 September 2015 were noted by the Standards Committee.

 

Resolved;

 

The Standards Committee noted the minutes of the meeting held 10 September 2015.

11.

Declarations of Interests

Members are to make any declarations of disclosable pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests which they might have in respect of matters on the agenda for this meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

12.

Public Question Time

Questions submitted by members of the public in writing by 12:00 noon on the previous working day namely Wednesday 9 September 2015 (the maximum time allowed is 15 minutes)

Minutes:

No public questions had been submitted.

13.

Model Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 264 KB

The Standards Committee is requested to consider the report and its appendices and make the following recommendation to Full Council:

 

 

Recommendation;

 

That Standards Committee recommend to Full Council adoption of the Local Government Association “Model Councillor Code of Conduct 2020’.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Plowman introduced the report to the Committee. He drew the Committee’s attention to page 11 of the Agenda pack and read out the Joint Statement. Mr Plowman then invited Mr Bennett to present the report to the Committee and then responded to comments and questions from members.

 

To clarify Mr Bennett explained to the Committee that the figure of £25 quoted on page 8 of the agenda pack under paragraph 3.9, item l, was incorrect and should be discarded and replaced with the correct figure; £50 which is quoted on page 19 of the agenda pack.

 

Members discussed the use and influence of social media platforms such as Facebook. Mr Bennett drew members’ attention to pages 14 and 15 of the Agenda pack which set out how councillors were expected to behave and explained that this applied to the way in which they used social media. He also informed the Committee that the council have a separate Social Media Policy, this is overseen by Mrs Parker in her role asPublic Relations Manager, the policy is currently being updated but acknowledged that it would be sensible to share the policy with members. Mr Bennett explained that the Association of Democratic Service Officers (ADSO) was also currently preparing a model document on the use of Social Media which would reflect the new model code of conduct; once this was available it would be shared with members. Mr Bennett reminded the Committee that whilst councillors should be mindful about how they use social media and the comments they may post, they should not feel that they had to tolerate abuse from other users.

 

Members enquired if there was a role for Monitoring Officers from other authorities when considering Standard’s cases, to provide an unbiased opinion. Mr Bennett explained that whilst in principal he had no objection to fellow Monitoring Officers being involved, the role of the Independent Person was to provide an unbiased opinion when cases were being considered. He commended Mr Plytas in his role as an Independent Person and informed the Committee that Mr Plytas had provided an invaluable service in this role.

 

In response to a question from the Committee regarding the introduction of new sanctions, Mr Bennett explained that new sanctions could only be endorsed by central government. He informed the committee that as he understood the introduction of new sanctions, were still very much due to be endorsed by the present government and were just awaiting a date for when they would be considered.  The introduction of the new sanctions will offer a more balanced range of sanctions from apologies and training, to more serious sanctions such as suspension. He acknowledged members comments that it would be helpful to include the sanctions available as an appendix to the Code of Conduct.

 

Members of the Committee asked for clarification about how the Code of Conduct applied to the Parishes. Mr Bennett explained that Parish Councils would need to adopt their own Code of Conduct, but they would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Independent Persons Report pdf icon PDF 168 KB

The Standards Committee are asked to consider the attached report and make the proposed recommendations;

 

That Standards Committee :

 

2.1 Thank Mr Newman and Mr. Plytas for their contributions to the work of the Committee as Independent Persons over several years.

 

2.2 Authorise the Monitoring Officer to undertake a process to advertise the role of Independent Persons.

 

2.3 That the Chairman of Standards be authorised to create and chair an interview panel for Independent Persons following the advertising process.

 

2.4 That the Chairman be authorised to recommend such persons as the interview panel considers appropriate to Full Council to the position of Independent Person.

 

Minutes:

Mr Plowman thanked both Mr Plytas and Mr Newman for their service as an independent person. He then invited Mr Bennett to present the report to the Committee.

 

Mr Bennett explained the role of the Independent Person and why it was so important that the council appointed at least one, ideally two should be appointed. Mr Bennett was currently seeking confirmation as to how long an Independent Person may be appointed, and would follow up outside the meeting.

 

*Following the meeting Mr Bennett received confirmation that an Independent Person may be appointed for no longer than two years.

 

Mr Bennett then answered questions and comments from the members.

 

Resolved;

That the Standards Committee:

 

2.1 Thank Mr Newman and Mr Plytas for their contributions to the work of the Committee as Independent Persons over several years.

 

2.2 Authorise the Monitoring Officer to undertake a process to advertise the role of Independent Persons

 

2.3 That the Chairman of Standards be authorised to create and chair an interview panel for the Independent Persons following the advertising process.

 

2.4 That the Chairman be authorised to recommend such persons as the interview panel considers appropriate to Full Council to the position of Independent Person.

15.

Late Items

The Standards Committee will consider any late items as follows:

 

(a) Items added to the agenda papers and made available for public inspection

 

(b) Items which the chairman has agreed should be taken as matters of urgency by reason of special circumstances to be reported at the meeting

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

There were no late items for consideration.

16.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The Committee is asked to consider in respect of the following item(s) whether the public, including the press, should be excluded from the meeting on the grounds of exemption under Parts I to 7 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as indicated against the item and because, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption of that information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. The reports dealt with under this part of the agenda are attached for members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and senior officers only (salmon paper).

Or

 

There are no restricted items for consideration.

 

 

Minutes:

There were no restricted items for consideration.