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STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th November, 2012.

 

Present:  Mr. A.G. Hallett (Chairman), Mrs. M.J. Pearce (Vice-Chairman), Mr. J.F. Baker, Mr. D. Carsley, Mr. A. Lane, Town Councillor Mr. M. Cuddy and Councillors Mrs. P. Drake and Mrs. A.J. Moore.

 

 

516     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor Mrs. M. Kelly Owen.

 

 

517     MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th September, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

518     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

519     APPLICATIONS FOR GRANT OF DISPENSATION (MO) –

 

The Standards Committee (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 permitted Members to apply to the Standards Committee to speak and, if appropriate, to vote on matters concerning which, due to a prejudicial interest, they might not otherwise be able to speak or vote. 

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T dispensations be granted as indicated, in respect of debates at Council meetings up to the date of the next Local Government Elections :

 

(i)         T H A T Vale of Glamorgan Councillor R.J. Bertin be granted dispensation to speak only, on matters relating to the Gibbonsdown Community Centre in Barry.

 

(ii)        T H A T Vale of Glamorgan Councillor C.P.J. Elmore be granted dispensation to speak only, on matters relating to the YMCA.

 

(iii)       T H A T Vale of Glamorgan Councillor C.P. Franks be granted dispensation to speak only, on issues affecting Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern.

 

(iv)       T H A T Vale of Glamorgan Councillor H.J.W. James be granted dispensation to speak only, on matters that may affect the organisations the Member has an interest in, namely Vale of Glamorgan Brass Band, Rhoose Lifeguard Club, Rhoose Community Hall Association, Llancarfan and District Community Association, Vale of Glamorgan Agricultural Society and St. Johns Ambulance.

 

(2)       T H A T Vale of Glamorgan Councillor K.J. Geary’s application be referred back to the Member with the recommendation that he discusses the contents of the application with the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Monitoring Officer.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To comply with The Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 governing applications for the grant of dispensations to speak / speak and vote.

 

(2)       In recognition of the Code of Conduct guidance for Members. 

 

 

520     STANDARDS CONFERENCE WALES 2013 (MO) –

 

Members were informed of a Standards Conference Wales 2013 that was scheduled to be held in Llandudno on Friday, 19th April, 2013.  The report recommended that the Chairman of the Standards Committee be authorised to determine the Council’s representation at the Conference.  It was noted that the Conference would provide an opportunity to hear directly from senior officials involved in the adjudication of the Code of Conduct cases and to question them on matters of concern, but to also enable delegates to debate current issues regarding the Code of Conduct. 

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Chairman of the Standards Committee be authorised to determine the Council’s representation at the Conference.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable the Council to be represented.

 

 

521     GUIDANCE FROM THE PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN FOR WALES REGARDING THE CODE OF CONDUCT (MO) –

 

The Local Government Ombudsman had issued revised guidance on the Code of Conduct following a High Court decision in the case of Calver, R (on the application of) The Adjudication Panel for Wales.  The Court found that whilst the comments which were posted on a website operated by the Member were sarcastic and mocking, and the tone ridiculed his fellow Councillors, because the majority of the comments related to the way in which the Council was run and the competence of the Councillors, the comments were “political expression”. 

 

The impact of the ruling was that the Ombudsman would have to apply a higher threshold when deciding whether to investigate any conduct complained about which may be regarded as being political expression.  The Ombudsman had advised that he would not therefore investigate when such cases of political criticism were made regardless of the tone of the exchange and indicated that allegations of disrespectful behaviour towards officers, particularly those who may hold senior positions, would also be considered in the light of this ruling. 

 

In considering the report it was the consensus of the meeting that officers should not be considered in light of this ruling.  The Monitoring Officer advised the Committee that other local authority monitoring officers for Wales had also raised similar concerns in respect of this issue with the Ombudsman.

 

It was subsequently

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Chairman of the Standards Committee write to the Ombudsman for Wales advising of the concerns of the Members of the Standards Committee in relation to his guidance pertaining to officers.

 

Reason for decision

 

It was the Committee’s view that it was inappropriate for the Ombudsman to issue similar guidance in relation to the conduct of officers as a result of the impact of the ruling.

 

 

522     CODE OF CONDUCT TRAINING FOR COUNCILLORS POST 2012 ELECTIONS (MO) –

 

The Terms of Reference of the Standards Committee included at (5) “To advise, train or arrange to train Councillors, Co-opted Members and Church and Parent Governors representatives on matters relating to the Members' Code of Conduct”.  The report advised of the training that had been offered to all Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and all Town and Community Councils following elections in May 2012.  Members’ attention was drawn to the fact that a number of Community Councils had not been represented on the training and in view of the Terms of Reference of the Standards Committee it was therefore

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Town and Community Councils that the Council was aware of which had not attended Code of Conduct training be advised of the last session to be held on Wednesday, 14th November 2012.

 

Reason for decision

 

To remind Community Councils of the final training session.