Agenda and minutes

Standards Committee
Friday, 27th April, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: County Offices, Kendal

Contact: Stewart Consterdine  Stewart Consterdine

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr S Haraldsen.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises

 

1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for       profit or gain.

 

2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

 

3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority

 

(a)       Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be           executed; and

 

            (b)       Which has not been fully discharged.

 

4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 

 

5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 

 

6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge)

 

            (a)       The landlord is the authority; and

 

            (b)       The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial                                                   interest.

 

7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where

 

(a)       That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the         area of the authority; and

 

(b)       Either –

 

(i)      The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one       hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or

 

(ii)     If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

 

In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.

 

Note

 

A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).

 

Minutes:

No Declarations of Interest were made

3.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any items of business on the Agenda.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED  that, the press and public be admitted to the meeting for all items of business

 

 

4.

Minutes from the last meeting pdf icon PDF 51 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2018 (copy enclosed).

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2018 be agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair

5.

Use of Social Media by Members of the Council pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To consider a report from the Monitoring Officer.

 

Minutes:

A report from the Monitoring Officer was considered, regarding the use of social media by members of the Council. The provision of guidance to members of the Council on the use of social media had been considered by the Member Development Group at its 21 March 2018 meeting and members had considered the piece of work to be within the remit of the Standards Committee as it pertained to the members Code of Conduct.

 

It was suggested that the Monitoring Officer liaise with other Authorities to build on work already undertaken and to share good practice. An objective for the group was to give members information on how social media worked with the Code of Conduct. A number of members advised of the impact that social media had had on their lives and this would be taken into consideration by the working group. All members of the Committee offered to take part in the working group. It was suggested that the Communications and Policy and Scrutiny Team could input into the work of the working group.

 

It was proposed that a working group meeting be convened for 6 July 2018 in order to develop a protocol. Mr Worsley was invited to join the group as he had skills which would be valuable to the group.

 

 

RESOLVED that

 

1             The Standards Committee approve the establishment of a working group to prepare guidance for members of the Council on the use of social media

2             A meeting of the working group to be convened for 6 July at Cumbria House, Carlisle at 10.00am

3             The Monitoring Officer to report progress of the work to the next meeting of the Standards Committee.

6.

REVIEW OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ETHICAL STANDARDS: STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer presented a report on the Review of Local Government Ethical Standards: Stakeholder Consultation which provided details of the review currently being carried out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and she sought direction on the response to be provided to the consultation. Appendix 1 to the report was tabled which included the Consultation questions. The Monitoring Officer guided the Committee though all of the questions, advising she had drafted an outline response to stimulate discussion and encouraged further responses from members.

 

In terms of existing structure, process and practices in place to ensure high standards of conduct by local councillors and the gaps in the current ethical standards regime for local government, members discussed the differences in the Codes of Conduct of the District Councils and the County Council with a change to the County Council’s Code relating to Pecuniary Interests being highlighted by the Monitoring Officer.


With regard to Codes of Conduct being clear and easily understood and the Council ensuring that the Code of Conduct is consistent with the Seven Principles of Public Life for registering and declaring councillor’s interests, it was considered that the public would be able to understand the principles. Dispensations and the guidance available for dispensations were considered; guidance was strict but the law was unclear therefore clarity would be welcomed. Consideration was given to an employer such as Sellafield employing many people from one area and the impact it had on members declaring interests and obtaining dispensations.

 

Discussion took place on the process for investigating and deciding upon allegations. It was agreed to attach the Terms of Reference for the Standards Committee and Protocol for investigating complaints to the response. Members supported having an Independent person in the Chair and a politically proportionate Standards Committee. The skills of those undertaking formal Investigations was raised with the Monitoring Officer reassuring members that an external, legally qualified person would be brought in who had knowledge of local authorities should an Investigation be launched. She added that a discussion had taken place with the Chief Executive on including this in general complaints training.

 

In discussing that the views of an Independent Person must be sought, the Monitoring Officer highlighted the difficulty in recruiting to the role with members welcoming that the role was completely apolitical and independent of the County Council member role. That the Standards Committee had an Independent person and Independent Chairman as members would be included in the response.

 

In discussing Monitoring Officers being subject to conflicts of interest in the process of investigating code breaches, it was raised that the protection for statutory officers had been lessened and this would be noted in the response. The Monitoring Officer outlined how she would deal with challenge and pressure in her role.

 

Members discussed the limited sanctions for Councillors.  They thought it would be useful to include in the response that there should be a range of sanctions to use.

 

Members considered declaring interests and conflicts of interest. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Date of next meeting

The date of the next meeting id 6 July 2018 at 10.00 am at Cumbria House.

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Standards Committee would be held on 6 July 2018 at 10.00am at Cumbria House, Carlisle.