Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Council held on 11/12/2007
Minutes of Standards Committee 5.11.07
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE –
5th NOVEMBER 2007
SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL MEETING –11TH DECEMBER 2007
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
Mr F N J Davies (Chairman)
Cllr S N Mulliner
Cllr M R Goodridge (Vice-Chairman)
Cllr J M Savage
Cllr L C Bate
Cllr R Terry
Miss K E Heenan
Mr D F Wheatley
Cllr Mrs J Maines
(Agenda Item 3)
The Minutes of the meeting held on 9th July 2007 were confirmed and signed.
DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
(Agenda Item 5)
There were no declarations of interest raised under this heading.
PART I – RECOMMENDATIONS TO COUNCIL
There were no matters falling within this category.
PARTS II AND III – MATTERS OF REPORT
The background papers relating to the following reports in Parts II and III are as specified in the Agenda for the meeting of the Standards Committee.
Part II – Matters reported in detail for the information of the Council
STANDARDS BOARD CONFERENCE
(Agenda Item 5)
The Chairman reported that he had attended the Standards Board National Conference at Birmingham in October 2007 with the Monitoring Officer and that the main topic of discussion was the future format for Standards Committees dealing with complaints. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that the legislation was now in force and the new referral process would start in April 2008. This would result in Standards Committees being responsible for filtering local complaints rather than the Standards Board.
The Chairman reported that there had been a number of workshops at the event discussing various issues, in particular, the new Code of Conduct and the importance of working with local Leaders. The Committee noted that the Chairman would be meeting with the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive to discuss standards issues shortly.
The Committee asked whether there was a possibility of more Members attending the event next year, particularly Independent Appointees. The Monitoring Officer advised the Committee that the Conference was costly and any additional representation could be considered but would be subject to budget constraints.
CHAIRMAN’S/MONITORING OFFICER UPDATE
(Agenda Item 6)
The Committee received an oral report from the Monitoring Officer updating Members on the work undertaken since its last meeting. The following matters were highlighted to the Committee:
a) As a result of there being a six month period in which to adopt the new Code of Conduct there had been an intense period of training, in particular for Towns and Parishes.
The Monitoring Officer had undertaken an analysis of the Town and Parish Councils covering whether they had adopted the Code, advertised it, informed the Standards Board and provided training to Members. The Committee noted that most had complied but the Monitoring Officer still awaited information from some, which she would follow up.
b) The Monitoring Officer reported that there was one ongoing issue that still needed to be addressed with some Town and Parish Councils. The New Code permitted Councillors with prejudicial interests to speak at committees when members of the public had the right to speak, for example at Planning Committees. However, unlike the Borough Council, Town and Parishes needed to specifically adopt this part of the New Code. If they did not specifically adopt the provision they could not use it. The Monitoring Officer felt this was not fully appreciated by all Towns and Parishes and would be seeking to reinforce the importance of adopting this provision.
c) The Monitoring Officer confirmed that training had taken place with all the three Town and Cranleigh Parish Councils. Nearly all rural parishes had received training. Those that had not received training would be encouraged to do so.
d) It was noted that the action to review dispensations granted to Towns and Parish Councils (Minute No. 8.) had not been actioned. The Monitoring Officer would complete this action, and report back to the next meeting.
UPDATE ON TOWN AND PARISH COUNCILS’ IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT
(Agenda Item 7)
This item was covered during the Monitoring Officer’s update.
CORPORATE COMPLAINTS LEAFLET
The Deputy Monitoring Officer reported that there would be a delay in the publication of the corporate complaints leaflet. It would be published once the proposals for the restructuring of the Council had been agreed.
(Agenda Item 9)
Churt Parish Council
At its last meeting the Committee had considered a request from Churt Parish Council for a grant of dispensation for all the Members of its Recreation Management Committee as they had conflicts of interest. The Committee raised concerns at the appropriateness of recreational matters being dealt with only by members with clear interests and were concerned as to the openness and accountability this afforded. The Committee was uncertain whether or not the sub committee worked to the same process as the full Council, for example open meetings.
Further, the Committee was advised that any such applications for dispensation should be made individually by those councillors who had a conflict of interest, in accordance with best practice guidance from the Standards Board,
The Monitoring Officer was asked to seek further information from the Clerk to Churt Parish Council and to give the clerk guidance on the application process.
Applications for dispensation have now been received from those members of the Churt Parish Council who had personal and prejudicial interests in matters that related to the Churt Recreation Ground. The Committee was empowered to grant dispensations where more than 50% of members of a Council had interests in a matter which would prevent the Council dealing with the matter. The Committee concluded that, given the close nature of the interests, it would be more open and accountable for the full Council to be seen to be dealing with recreational matters. Further, the Committee did not consider that it was the intention of the regulations to permit the grant of dispensations at the level of sub-committees.
However, the Committee did recognise that more than 50% of members of Churt Parish Council would potentially have conflicts of interest. Accordingly, the Committee agreed to grant a dispensation to those members of Churt Parish Council who had applied for dispensation to enable the full Council to deal with matters relating to the Churt Recreation Ground.
Any Members of Churt Parish Council who had a personal and prejudicial interest and who had not yet applied for dispensation must withdraw from any matter being considered in relation to the Churt Recreation Ground.
1. the application for dispensations for members of the Recreation Ground Management Committee, under Regulation 3 of the Relevant Authorities (Standards Committee) (Dispensations) Regulations 2002, to consider issues in relation to the User Groups of Churt Recreation Ground be refused and the original decision, agreed by the Committee on 9 July 2007 be endorsed.
2. The individual applications for dispensation received by the Committee from Members of Churt Parish Council, under Regulation 3 of the Relevant Authorities (Standards Committee) (Dispensations) Regulations 2002, to enable them to consider issues in relation to the User Groups of Churt Recreation Ground be approved but only to apply to the full meeting of Churt Parish Council.
Bramley Parish Council
The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting in February 2007, it had granted a dispensation to Bramley Parish Council to consider traffic issues and other issues of a general nature in relation to the development of Dunsfold Park. The Parish Council had written to the Committee asking for its dispensation to be extended.
The Committee considered the application and agreed that it should be extended for a further three months. However, the Committee noted that, in line with best practice, Members should submit individual applications for a dispensation. The Committee agreed that rather than defer the decision on the application until its next meeting, it would grant the application with the proviso that any further extension would require Members with an interest to submit a written request for a dispensation setting out the grounds for their request.
1. a dispensation be granted for members of Bramley Parish Council, under Regulation 3 of the Relevant Authorities (Standards Committee) (Dispensations) Regulations 2002, to consider traffic issues and other issues of a general nature in relation to the development of Dunsfold Park. Any interest above that of a general nature shall not be covered by this dispensation; and
2. the dispensation be reviewed in three months time.
NEW REGIME - REFERRALS
The Monitoring Officer advised the Committee that guidance was awaited on the new arrangements that would come into place on 1 April 2008 relating to the filtering of complaints. Members noted that the new arrangements would mean that any local complaint about a Councillor would come to the Monitoring Officer, rather than the Standards Board, and the Standards Committee would now be responsible for the hearing and consideration of these complaints.
The Monitoring Officer advised the Committee that it was important that it had a robust process in place to deal with the new regime. Furthermore, the Committee may need to give some thought to its membership to manage the new process in particular whether or not there was sufficient Town and Parish representation on the Standards Committee.
The Monitoring Officer reported that some Councils were piloting the new arrangements and working in partnership with other local authorities to facilitate the process. The Monitoring Officer would be looking in further detail at joint working arrangements.
STANDARDS COMMITTEE TRAINING
As a consequence of the new arrangements it was agreed that a workshop be held to enable the Standards Committee to receive training on the new arrangements and to consider a framework for managing the new regime. It was agreed that this would take place on 17th December from 3.30pm until 5.30pm.
Part III – Brief summaries of other matters dealt with
There were no matters falling within this category.
The meeting commenced at 7.00 p.m. and concluded at 8.24 p.m.
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