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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Standards Committee held on 19/07/2006
APPENDIX B - MONITORING OFFICER REPORT



APPENDIX B

MONITORING OFFICER REPORT

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

1. Under cover of a letter dated 20 April 2006, the Standards Board for England, pursuant to section 60(2) of the Local Government Act 2000, referred to the Council’s Monitoring Officer for local investigation of an allegation made against a member of Farnham Town Council (the allegation). A copy of the Referral is attached as Annexe 1 to this Report.

2. The allegation is against a Councillor, Mrs Anne Mansell, a Councillor at Farnham Town Council. It is alleged by Mr John Bower that Councillor Mrs Anne Mansell, in her capacity as a member of the Plans Panel of Farnham Town Council, at a meeting of the Plans Panel on 18 August 2005 failed to declare an interest or withdraw from the meeting during consideration of a proposed development that was 0.3 miles away from her own property, on the same road as her property.

3. Farnham town Council adopted its Model Code of Conduct in March 2003. This Code requires all members to comply with the Code when they are conducting the Town Council’s business. A copy of the Code is attached at Annexe 2 to this Report.

INVESTIGATION OF THE ALLEGATION

4. By memorandum of 25 April 2006, attached at Annexe 3 to this Report, the Council’s Monitoring Officer appointed Mrs Sue Petzold as the Investigating Officer in this matter to carry out a full investigation into the said allegation.

5. The said Mrs Petzold has undertaken an extensive investigation of the allegation and has interviewed all the relevant parties, namely the subject member, the complainant, and the Assistant Town Clerk of Farnham Town Council. Mrs Petzold’s report, together with signed statements, is attached as Annexe 4 to this report. All the parties have had the opportunity to read their statements and the Investigating Officer’s report and to amend as appropriate.

ROLE OF THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE

6. Unlike the role of the Ethical Standards Officer in relation to investigations dealt with by the Standards Board for England, neither the Investigating Officer nor the Monitoring Officer are empowered to make a finding on whether or not there has been a breach of the Code. Whilst they can express a view for the Standards Committee’s consideration, any decision lies solely with the Standards Committee. 7. It is open to the Standards Committee, having considered Mrs Petzold’s report and supporting documentation, to decide that either (i) there is no evidence to support the allegation that there has been a breach of the Code; or (ii) the evidence is such that the Standards Committee considers it warrants a full hearing of the matter.

8. Where the Standards Committee finds that there has not been a breach of the Code, then no further action will need to be taken other than to inform the parties of the Standards Committees findings. If the Standards Committee concludes however that, on the basis of the evidence before them, there is a case to answer then the Standards Committee will convene a Hearing Panel to undertake a full hearing of the matter. All the parties will be given the opportunity to present their case to the Hearing Panel.

9. In the event that the Hearing Panel is to be convened, the Committee will need to agree membership of the Hearing Panel with the date for the Hearing Panel to be subsequently agreed.

comms\standards\2006-07\007.doc