Agenda and minutes

Councillor Conduct Committee
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 6.00pm

Venue: Meeting Room 2 - Level 3, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR

Contact: Wayne Hemingway, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

307.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Carr.

308.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 12 October 2016 and the Joint meeting of Committees held on 17 May 2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The record of the meeting held on 12 October 2016 and the record of the joint meeting of committees held on 17 May 2017 were both agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct, subject to Councillor Wildey being recorded as having given his apologies for absence for the meeting held on 12 October 2016.

309.

Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report. 

Minutes:

There were none.

310.

Declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests

A member need only disclose at any meeting the existence of a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) in a matter to be considered at that meeting if that DPI has not been entered on the disclosable pecuniary interests register maintained by the Monitoring Officer.

 

A member disclosing a DPI at a meeting must thereafter notify the Monitoring Officer in writing of that interest within 28 days from the date of disclosure at the meeting.

 

A member may not participate in a discussion of or vote on any matter in which he or she has a DPI (both those already registered and those disclosed at the meeting) and must withdraw from the room during such discussion/vote.

 

Members may choose to voluntarily disclose a DPI at a meeting even if it is registered on the council’s register of disclosable pecuniary interests but there is no legal requirement to do so.

 

Members should also ensure they disclose any other interests which may give rise to a conflict under the council’s code of conduct.

 

In line with the training provided to members by the Monitoring Officer members will also need to consider bias and pre-determination in certain circumstances and whether they have a conflict of interest or should otherwise leave the room for Code reasons. 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other interests

 

There were none.

311.

Review of the Council's Member Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 411 KB

The Member Code of Conduct was adopted by the Council on 26 July 2012 and has recently been reviewed by the Monitoring Officer. Arising from that review this report recommends some changes to the Council’s Member Code of Conduct and associated procedures.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Chief Legal Officer introduced the report which provided the Committee with the outcome of a review of the Member Code of Conduct, previously adopted by the Council on 26 July 2012. The review had recommended some changes to the Member Code of Conduct and associated procedures.

 

The Chief Legal Officer detailed the proposed changes to the Code, this included the declaration and registration of non-pecuniary interests and the declaration of other significant interests. He also informed the Committee that it would be necessary to remove the provision for referral of complaints relating to the conduct of a Parish Councillor to the relevant Parish Council (this should be dealt with by Medway Council in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, supported by recent case law).

 

In addition, it was proposed that non-voting co-opted members of Council committees would be required to comply with the Code. Other proposed changes included the Code being updated to include a preamble, a reference to the seven principles of public life (Nolan), updates to the Planning and Licensing Codes of Good Practice to ensure consistency across the Codes as well as a review of the associated procedures.

 

Members then raised a number of comments and questions which included:

 

Whether Members would be required to register an interest if they were a Council appointee to an outside body – the Chief Legal Officer confirmed that Members would be required to declare such an interest and that this was covered in schedule 2 (non-pecuniary interests) to the revised Code.

 

Given it was proposed for the revised Code to take effect from 1 January 2018, would Members be asked to submit a new registration form in January and then an update form after Annual Council in May (as was current practice), and did the law specify whether Members were required to formally submit updated forms, even if there were no changes – the Chief Legal Officer confirmed that it was the Council’s preference that Members formally submit the annual update forms even when there was no change and that the proposal would remain for the revised Code to take effect from January 2018 unless Members wished to defer the start date until May 2018.

 

Whether the proposed revisions would sufficiently deal with the issue about complaints against Councillors acting in capacity – the Chief Legal Officer stated that this matter had arisen on a number of occasions and whilst it was already stated clearly in the code, the issue was dealt with during Member training events.  However, following discussion, it was considered that there would be some merit in providing more guidance on the issue in the Councillor Conduct Complaint Form (Appendix D to the report), to assist those who may be considering in making a complaint against a Councillor. The Chief Legal Officer undertook to update the Councillor Conduct Complaint Form accordingly.

 

Decision:

 

a)    The Committee recommended the following to Full Council for approval:

 

i)             The proposed revisions to the Council’s Member Code of Conduct as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 311.

312.

Exclusion of the Press and Public pdf icon PDF 28 KB

This report summarises the content of agenda item 7, which, in the opinion of the proper officer, contains exempt information within one of the categories in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972. It is a matter for the Committee to determine whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the document. 

Minutes:

Decision:

 

That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the exempt material relating to agenda item 7 because consideration of these matters in public would disclose information falling within Paragraphs 1,3 and 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 as specified in agenda item 7,and, in all the circumstances of the case, the Committee considers that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

313.

Complaint CCC 2016/002 - Update

This exempt report provides the Councillor Conduct Committee with an update regarding complaint CCC 2016/002 after the Committee referred the matter to the Police at their meeting on 12 October 2016.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

The Chief Legal Officer introduced a report which detailed the outcome of an investigation which had been referred to the Police at the Committee’s last meeting on 12 October 2016 culminating in no further action. He also referred to the Police’s comments regarding matters arising from the complaint, which could be addressed through Members’ training.

 

Members expressed concern that it had taken too long to report the outcome of the investigation to the Committee. Further steps should have been taken to inform Committee Members of the outcome, even though formal meetings of the Committee had not been required during the period owing to a lack of business.

 

Members also discussed the Police’s comments regarding matters which could be addressed through Members’ training.

 

Decision:

 

a)    The Committee noted the outcome of the Police investigation.

 

b)    The Committee requested that the Chief Legal Officer inform Committee Members of the outcome of any future investigations as soon as possible after it has been received by the Council.

 

c)    The Committee requested that future Members’ training on the Code of Conduct include the three key issues raised by the Police.