Agenda and draft minutes

Member Conduct Committee
Monday, 9th September, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, at the Council Offices, Southfields, Loughborough. View directions

Items
No. Item

7.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 17th June 2019.

 

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the new Parish Member on behalf of the Committee and passed on its thanks to Councillor Betty Crick who had stepped down from being a parish member before the election in May 2019.

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 17th June 2019 were confirmed as a true record and signed.

8.

Disclosures of Pecuniary and Personal Interest

Minutes:

No disclosures were made.

9.

Questions Under Committee Procedure 12.8

No questions were received.

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

10.

Update on Complaints Received pdf icon PDF 108 KB

A report of the Monitoring Officer providing an update on complaints received about breaches of the Code of Conduct and any issues arising from those complaints.

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Monitoring Officer providing an update on complaints received about breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct and any issues arising from those complaints (item 5 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

The Monitoring Officer stated that the outcome of the three complaints received since the last meeting of the Committee had been to take no further action and that the Independent Persons consulted had agreed with these outcomes.  One complainant had appealed but having consulted with the Chair and Vice-chair of the Committee, the appeal was not upheld.

 

RESOLVED that the current position in respect of complaints about breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct that have been received be noted.

 

Reason

 

To keep the Committee informed about complaints.

11.

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests pdf icon PDF 114 KB

A report of the Monitoring Officer providing an update regarding the number of Disclosable Pecuniary Interest forms that have not yet been received from Town and Parish Councillors.

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Monitoring Officer providing an update regarding the Register of Members’ Interests (item 6 on the agenda filed with these minutes).  

 

The Monitoring Officer stated that he had issued a stern reminder in August explaining that this report would be presented to the Member Conduct Committee and that one of the potential options could be submitting a report to the Police with names of councillors who had not notified the Monitoring Officer of disclosable pecuniary interests (DPI) within 28 days of becoming a councillor.  This had resulted in some DPIs being returned and there were now only 8 parish or town councillors who had not yet returned submitted details of their DPIs.  It was noted that the wording of the reminder had been objected to by some councillors as too strong, but the Committee fully endorsed the Monitoring Officer’s actions.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.            that the information contained in the report be noted;

 

2.            that the Monitoring Officer sends a further reminder directly to the Parish and Town Councillors who have not yet returned their DPIs seeking clarification as to why they have not yet submitted their information and asking if they required any additional support to complete the form.

 

Reasons

 

1.    the Committee were satisfied with the contents of the report.

 

2.    The Committee were concerned that an offence was being committed and therefore considered that it was important to give parish and town councillors a further opportunity to submit their DPIs.

12.

Mandatory Standards and Probity Training pdf icon PDF 45 KB

A report of the Monitoring Officer regarding non-attendance at the standards and probity training.

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Monitoring Officer regarding the non-attendance of members at two mandatory training sessions regarding standards and probity (item 7 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

The Monitoring Officer stated that the training had been categorised as mandatory, its purpose was to protect councillors and that 14 councillors who had not attended either session were re-elected members.  If a councillor had not attended the training since 2015 after the previous election, it could potentially be eight years before a councillor was trained in the matter again and could put themselves at risk. 

 

RESOLVED that one further session be arranged by Democratic Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, that a date and time is chosen whereby the majority of councillors can attend and that the training session be recorded and made available with the presentation slides to councillors.

 

Reason

 

Although the Committee was aware that further training would involve officer time and resources, it considered that it was important for councillors to attend standards and probity training and that every opportunity should be taken to arrange a session for the outstanding councillors to attend, including setting up the sessions during the day if necessary and recording the training if for genuine reasons councillors were still unable to attend.

13.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 105 KB

A report of the Monitoring Officer to enable the Committee to agree a work programme to plan its future business

Minutes:

Considered a report of the Monitoring Officer enabling the Committee to agree a work programme to plan its future business (item 8 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Members discussed whether a time limit would be beneficial when investigations were conducted into complaints by the Monitoring Officer and whether counselling support was offered to councillors undergoing the investigation.  It was noted that there were many factors that influenced the length of time it took for a complaint to be investigated and that councillors could request to receive support.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.            that the item regarding the Register of Members’ Interests be rescheduled for consideration by the Committee from its meeting on 2nd December 2019 to its meeting to be held on 16th March 2020;

 

2.            that the item regarding the Review of the Constitution be updated to remove consideration of the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and that the recommendations be added to the Work Programme separately for the Committee to schedule at an appropriate time;

 

3.            that the Chair, Vice-chair and Head of Planning and Regeneration be invited to the Committee’s meeting on 2nd December 2019;

 

4.            that the Monitoring Officer considers the Committee’s views regarding the application of time limits and availability of counselling support when preparing the Hearing Appeals Process report for its meeting to be held on 2nd December 2019.

 

Reasons

 

1.            The Committee considered that there was sufficient items on its agenda for its meeting to be held on 2nd December 2019 and therefore wished to consider the Register of Members’ Interests at a later meeting by which time the routine six monthly reminders would have also been sent out to all councillors;

 

2.            The Committee were aware that the Government was unlikely to prioritise its review of the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and did not wish to make changes to the Council’s Constitution before the Government had responded.

 

3.            To provide guidance during the consideration of the Planning Code of Good Practice as part its agenda item ‘review of the Constitution’ at its meeting in December 2019.

 

4.            The Committee wished the Monitoring Officer to provide guidance regarding time limits and the availability of counselling support.