Top

Top

STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 18th June, 2014.

 

Present:  Mr. D. Carsley, Mr. A. G. Hallett, Mr. A.J. Lane, Mrs. M.J. Pearce, Town Councillor M. Cuddy and Councillors C.P. Franks and Mrs. M. Kelly Owen.

 

Also present for Agenda Item No. 7: Community Councillor B. Kennard and Mr. J. Parkin and Mr. Pritchard (Investigating Officers from the Office of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales).

 

 

81        APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Mr. J.F. Baker and Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore.

 

           

82        APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T Mr. A.G. Hallett be appointed Chairman of the Standards Committee for the remainder of the Municipal year.

 

Mr. Hallett took the Chair.

 

 

83        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T Mr. A.J. Lane be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee for the remainder of the Municipal year.

 

           

84        MINUTES –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 6th May, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

85        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

86        APPLICATION FOR 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.

 

Committee considered an application received from Llantwit Major Town Councillor Mrs. S.M. Geary to speak and vote on matters arising at the Llantwit Major Town Council’s Building and Recreation Allotments Sub-Committee (other than when determining allotment tenancies and rents) in view of her having an allotment tenancy agreement with Llantwit Major Town Council and being a Member of Llantwit Major Town Council’s Buildings and Recreation Allotments Sub-Committee. 

 

The paragraphs of the Standards Committee (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 under which the dispensation had been sought were (d) and (f). 

 

Having considered the application, it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the request for dispensation received from Llantwit Major Town Councillor Mrs. S.M. Geary for dispensation to speak and vote on matters arising at the Llantwit Major Town Council’s Building and Recreation Allotments Sub-Committee (other than when determining allotment tenancies and rents) in view of Councillor Mrs. Geary having an allotment tenancy agreement with Llantwit Major Town Council and also being a Member of the Llantwit Major Town Council’s Buildings and Recreation Allotments Sub-Committee be granted.

 

The paragraph of the Standards Committee (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 under which the dispensation be granted was (d). 

 

Reason for decision

 

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

 

 

87        ALLEGATIONS OF FAILURE TO OBSERVE THE MEMBERS’ CODE OF CONDUCT MADE AGAINST COMMUNITY COUNCILLOR BRIAN KENNARD OF COLWINSTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL –

 

The Chairman introduced all present. 

 

A copy of the Procedure for Dealing with Allegations Made Against Councillors and Referred to the Standards Committee had been distributed to all parties with the Agenda for the meeting.

 

A meeting of the Standards Committee on 11th April 2014 had considered a report prepared by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in respect of allegations against Community Councillor B. Kennard, a Member of Colwinston Community Council and the Committee had considered that report in order to make an initial determination as to whether Community Councillor Kennard had failed, or may have failed, to comply with that Community Council’s Code of Conduct.

 

The allegations relating to Councillor Kennard were as follows:

 

  • Contrary to Paragraph 7(a) of the Colwinston Community Council's Members' Code of Conduct and having a personal interest, he used or attempted to use his position as a Colwinston Community Councillor improperly to secure or receive for himself an advantage by contributing to discussions at the Colwinston Community Council meeting of 21 August 2012, at which members took decisions aimed at rendering future planning applications on the site known as Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, less likely to succeed.
  • Contrary to Paragraph 11(1) of the Colwinston Community Council's Members' Code of Conduct he failed to disclose a personal interest at the meeting of the Colwinston Community Council on 21 August 2012 and 12 April 2013 in respect of the planning matter related to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston.
  • Contrary to Paragraph 14(1)(a) of the Colwinston Community Council's Members' Code of Conduct he failed to withdraw from the Colwinston Community Council meetings of 21 August 2012 and 12 April 2013 when the planning matter relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, was being considered by the Colwinston Community Council when having a prejudicial interest in the matter.
  • Contrary to Paragraph 14(1)(c) of the Colwinston Community Council's Members' Code of Conduct he sought to influence a decision about the planning matter relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, ('the Site') at the Community Council’s meetings on 21 August 2012 and 12 April 2013 and by taking a leading role in the Community Council’s response to Mr. Pritchard’s planning appeal in respect of the Site when having a prejudicial interest in the matter.  

The Ombudsman considered that Councillor Kennard might have breached the Code in terms of failing to declare the interest and contributing to Community Council’s decisions, the outcomes of which might have put him at an advantage.

 

The Ombudsman had decided that Councillor Kennard’s actions were indicative of four breaches of the Code.  These concerned using his position to gain an advantage, failure to declare a personal interest, not withdrawing from the meeting despite having a prejudicial interest and seeking to influence a decision whilst having a prejudicial interest.

 

Having considered the report of the Ombudsman, it was the decision of the Standards Committee on 11th April 2014:

 

(1)       That Community Councillor B. be given the opportunity to make representations at a future meeting of the Standards Committee, either orally or in writing, in respect of the findings of the investigation and any complaint that he had failed, or may have failed, to comply with the Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.

 

(2)       That the Acting Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Investigation Officer be requested to attend the Standards Committee in line with Regulations 8(3A) and 8(3C) of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001.

 

Attached at Appendix A to the report before Committee was a copy of the Acting Ombudsman’s Investigation Report in respect of the complaints against Councillor Kennard.

 

Committee were advised that Community Councillor Kennard had agreed with the findings that he had breached the Code of Conduct in respect of personal interest and prejudicial interest, although he strongly disagreed that he used his position to seek to gain an advantage or influence a Council decision. 

 

Furthermore, Councillor Kennard strongly disagreed with the suggestion that he 'played a leading role' in Council decisions on this matter.

 

Mr. Parkin was asked to introduce his Investigation Report and advised the Committee that the contents of the report were self-explanatory.  He highlighted that because of Councillor Kennard’s residential property’s proximity to the Site in question, Councillor Kennard had both a personal and prejudicial interest in the issue. 

 

Councillor Kennard had accepted this. 

 

As a result of Councillor Kennard taking part in discussions regarding the creation of a new footpath across the Site, a stile in the vicinity declared a National Treasure and a tree behind the application Site acquire a Tree Preservation Order, the Site would be more difficult to develop and Councillor Kennard would have therefore obtained an advantage.

 

Mr. Parkin had also considered the fact that the Community Council Chairman had indicated to Councillor Kennard that he did not need to declare an interest but stated that it was the individual Member’s responsibility to comply with the Members’ Code of Conduct. 

 

In response, Councillor Kennard advised that most of what was contained within the Investigation Report was true although he had issues regarding the emphasis and interpretation placed on events. 

 

Councillor Kennard accepted that he should have declared a personal and prejudicial interest in the matters before the Community Council.  However, his actions in writing to the Planning Authority were as an individual, and not as a Community Councillor. 

 

Furthermore, with regard to the suggestion that Councillor Kennard had 'played a leading role' in Community Council decisions, he maintained that this was unsupported.  He stated that he believed the motive behind the 'footpath, stile and tree issue' had been misinterpreted by the complainant, and, seemingly the Acting Ombudsman.  He maintained that it was the Community Council’s intention all the way to protect these three village assets from disappearing and not directly to stop future buildings on the Site.

 

Councillor Kennard advised that the other Councillors on the Community Council were against the planning application, based on conservation grounds and there was therefore no need for him to have become involved. 

 

Additionally, Councillor Kennard advised:

 

-               He had spoken to the Planning Authority as a Community Councillor

-               It seemed that the Investigation Report had misrepresented the Community Council’s motives

-               It had been the wish of the Community Council to prevent the loss to the village of something that had been there for many years

-               The Vice-Chairman of the Community Council had called for the footpath to be registered as a Public Right of Way, for the stile to be designated a County Treasure and for the Tree Preservation Order

-               A much larger planning application had been submitted for the Colwinston area.  As a result of advice sought from the Monitoring Officer, Councillor Kennard had declared an interest in this matter.

 

Mr. Parkin, in response to Councillor Kennard’s comments on his 'leading role', advised that the Community Council had chosen Kennard to approach the Planning Authority regarding the appeal.  In effect, Councillor Kennard had done more than any of his fellow Councillors in this matter. 

 

Mr. Parkin further advised that the Ombudsman had issued a draft report and been prepared to alter the contents if the facts of the evidence presented had justified this action. 

 

This was all that Mr. Parkin wished to say on the matter.

 

Councillor Kennard, by way of explanation, advised that different Community Councillors specialised in certain areas of interest.  Councillor Kennard was interested in Planning matters and was asked to deal with this matter.  He stressed that he did not seek to deal with this matter, it was simply a matter of 'what he did'. 

 

Mrs. Pearce referred to page 3 of the transcript of the interview with Councillor Kennard in which he stated that 'I was certainly well aware of Nolan principles', and asked Councillor Kennard which of the principles he had taken into account when dealing with the issues in question.  Mrs. Pearce reminded Councillor Kennard of the Nolan principles. 

 

Councillor Kennard replied that the one that clearly came to his mind was that of integrity.  All he could say was that, when the Planning Application had been discussed, his initial view was that he was inclined to declare an interest, but was persuaded otherwise by the Chairman of the Council.  At that time, he had been a Community Councillor for only three months and he now regretted having taken that advice. 

 

Mrs. Pearce, in referring to page 8 of the transcript of the interview between officers of the Ombudsman’s Office and Councillor Kennard enquired of Councillor Kennard as to why he had sought advice from a professional land and property valuer on the effect the proposed Planning Application would have on the value of his house. 

 

Councillor Kennard replied that he had thought there would be no effect on his property value, but as a result of the discussions with the complainant, had decided to enquire as to how the development may have affected his property. 

 

Mrs. Pearce, in noting Councillor Kennard’s earlier comments that when he had responded to the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Authority regarding the planning application, it had been as an individual.  Mrs. Pearce enquired how Councillor Kennard determined in which role he was acting. 

 

Councillor Kennard responded that in the case of the planning application, he had responded as an individual.  The views he had expressed were his own views. 

 

Regarding the advice given to Councillor Kennard by the Chairman of the Community Council, Mr. Carsley enquired how the advice had come about and Councillor Kennard advised that the advice had been given shortly after the commencement of the meeting.  The Chairman had advised him that, in his view neither Councillor Kennard nor Councillor Bellin had an interest, so when the meeting continued, Councillor Kennard did not declare an interest.  However, it was his intention to declare his interest when he went to the meeting as he lived opposite the Site.

 

Mr. Carsley, in noting that the Community Council comprised seven Members, enquired if problems could arise if Members vacated the meetings because they had interests in particular matters.

 

Councillor Kennard replied that the Council had decided on a quorum of three. 

 

Town Councillor Cuddy noted that Councillor Kennard had attended a training course conducted by One Voice Wales and asked if this included Code of Conduct matters.  Councillor Kennard replied no, it was a 'general' sort of training session, but had covered issues such as Code of Conduct.

 

In referring to Appendix 12 to the Investigation Report, i.e. the letter signed by Brian Kennard to the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Directorate giving his objection to the proposed erection of a detached dwelling on land to the south of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, it was asked if Councillor Kennard thought it would have been better if this letter had been sent from the Council. 

 

Councillor Kennard replied no – he had drafted the letter before the meeting of the Community Council.  The letter represented his own thoughts.  Subsequently, the contents of the letter became the view of the Council. 

 

Councillor Kennard agreed that the response had been drafted prior to the meeting of the Community Council but had been posted following the meeting.

 

The Chairman asked Councillor Kennard to confirm his statement that he had breached the Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct and Councillor Kennard stated that this was the case, but he had not done so to gain an advantage. 

 

There were no further questions.

 

Prior to all parties vacating the room, the Monitoring Officer advised that she would remain with the Members of the Standards Committee to advise on any procedural matters.

 

All parties vacated the room whilst the Standards Committee deliberated on the representations received.

 

Having arrived at a decision, all parties were invited to re-enter the room and were advised:

 

(1)       That the Monitoring Officer had not offered any legal advice whilst the Committee were deliberating in private.

 

(2)       That it was the decision of the Standards Committee that Councillor Kennard’s actions were indicative of breaches of the Code of Conduct for Members of Colwinston Community Council.

 

It was now incumbent upon the Standards Committee to determine whether Councillor Kennard had failed to comply with the Code.

 

Mr. Parkin was asked if he wished to make any further points but stated that he had nothing to add to the contents of his Investigation Report.

 

Councillor Kennard was asked if he had any comments and replied that he had nothing to add.

 

There being no further questions, all parties vacated the room in order that the Panel could arrive at a decision.

 

Having arrived at a decision, all parties were invited to re-enter the room and were advised that it was the decision of the Standards Committee that all of the allegations made against Community Councillor B. Kennard had been proven to the satisfaction of the Committee. 

 

It was now necessary for the Committee to consider what action (if any) be taken against Councillor Kennard.

 

Mr. Parkin was asked if he had any comments to make and replied that his view was that it was a matter for the Committee to consider, and not the Ombudsman’s Office. 

 

Councillor Kennard was given an opportunity to make representations.

 

Councillor Kennard advised that he had admitted to the breaches of the Code of Conduct.  Furthermore, he had now learned his lesson and hoped that he would not be in this position again.

 

He advised that his Council had a busy few months ahead and he hoped that whatever sanction the Committee decided to impose would permit him to continue his work as a Community Councillor. 

 

There being no further statements or questions, all parties vacated the room in order that the Committee could arrive at its decision.

 

Having arrived at a decision, all parties were invited to re-enter the room whereupon they were advised that the Standards Committee had

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee, and contrary to paragraph 7(a) of the Colwinston Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct and having a personal interest, Community Councillor B. Kennard used or attempted to use his position as a Colwinston Community Councillor improperly to secure or receive for himself an advantage by contributing to discussions at the Colwinston Community Council meeting of 21st August 2012, at which Members took decisions aimed at rendering future planning applications on the site known as Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, less likely to succeed, Community Councillor B. Kennard be censured for his actions.

 

(2)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee, and contrary to paragraph 11(1) of the Colwinston Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor B. Kennard failed to disclose a personal interest at the meeting of the Colwinston Community Council on 21st August 2012 and 12th April 2013 in respect of the planning matter related to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, Community Councillor B. Kennard be censured for his actions.

 

(3)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee and contrary to paragraph 14(1)(a) of the Colwinston Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor B. Kennard failed to withdraw from the Colwinston Community Council meetings of 21st August 2012 and 12th April 2013 when the planning matter relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, was being considered by the Colwinston Community Council when having a prejudicial interest in the matter, Community Councillor B. Kennard be censured for his action.

 

(4)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee and contrary to paragraph 14(1)(c) of the Colwinston Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor B. Kennard sought to influence a decision about the planning matter relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, ('the Site') at the Community Council’s meetings on 21st August 2012 and 12th April 2013 and by taking a leading role in the Community Council’s response to Mr. Pritchard’s planning appeal in respect of the Site when having a prejudicial interest in the matter, Community Councillor B. Kennard be censured for his action.

 

(5)       T H A T Community Councillor B. Kennard be required to attend a training session regarding the Members’ Code of Conduct.

 

(6)       T H A T Community Councillor B. Kennard be advised of his right to appeal against the Committee’s determination within a period of 21 days of his receiving notification, by giving notice in writing to:

 

            The Registrar

            Adjudication Panel for Wales

            Government Buildings

            Spa Road East

            Llandridnod Wells

            Powys

            LE1 5HA

 

and that the notice of appeal must specify:

 

-               the grounds for appeal, and

-               whether or not the person giving notice of the appeal consents to the appeal being conducted by way of written representations.

 

(7)       T H A T, subject to an appeal (if any) the findings of the Standards Committee as detailed in paragraphs (1) to (5) above be publicised in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

Consideration was given to the evidence / information contained within the report of the Ombudsman’s Investigation Report together with representations made at the meeting.

 

Resolution (1)

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The minute of the meeting of Colwinston Community Council of 21st August 2012 which show that Councillor Kennard was present and did not declare an interest whilst the planning application relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, was discussed, including the taking of measures to render future planning applications on the Site less likely to succeed.

 

(2)       The proximity of the application Site to Councillor Kennard’s home, the potential loss of view and because he had been consulted and had made a personal response to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s consultation indicated that a member of the public would think that Councillor Kennard could not be objective about the matter.

 

(3)       Councillor Kennard had attended a training course on being elected Community Councillor, the contents of which had included Code of Conduct matters. 

 

(4)       Councillor Kennard had agreed to abide by the Members’ Code of Conduct.

 

Evidence on behalf of Community Councillor Kennard

 

(1)       Councillor Kennard’s assertion that, in responding to the Vale of Glamorgan Council on the planning application, it had been as an individual and not as a Community Councillor.

 

(2)       Councillor Kennard had been advised by the Chairman of the Community Council that he did not have an interest.  He now regretted having taken that advice.

 

(3)       Councillor Kennard had subsequently sought advice regarding another planning application and had subsequently declared an interest.

 

Resolution (2)

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The minutes of the meetings of the Colwinston Community Council held on 21st August 2012 and 12th April 2013 which show that Councillor Kennard was present and did not declare an interest whilst discussions ensued regarding a planning application relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, was discussed.

 

(2)       The proximity of the application site to Councillor Kennard’s home and the potential loss of view would indicate that a member of the public would think that Councillor Kennard could not be objective about this matter.

 

(3)       Councillor Kennard had agreed with the findings of the Investigating Officer that he breached the Code of Conduct in respect of personal interest and prejudicial interest.

 

(4)       Councillor Kennard had attended a training course on being elected Councillor, the contents of which had included Code of Conduct matters.

 

(5)       Councillor Kennard had agreed to abide by the Code of Conduct.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Kennard

 

(1)       Councillor Kennard had agreed with the findings of the Investigating Officer that he had breached the Code of Conduct in respect of personal interest and prejudicial interest.

 

(2)       Councillor Kennard had been advised by the Chair of the Community Council that he did not have an interest in the matter.  He now regretted having taken that advice.

 

(3)       Councillor Kennard had subsequently sought advice regarding another planning application and had subsequently declared an interest. 

 

Resolution (3)

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The minutes of the meetings of the Colwinston Community Council held on 21st August 2012 and 12th April 2013 which show that Councillor Kennard was present and did not declare an interest or withdraw whilst discussions ensued regarding a planning application relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, was discussed.

 

(2)       The proximity of the application Site to Councillor Kennard’s home and the potential loss of view would indicate that a member of the public would think that Councillor Kennard could not be objective about this matter.

 

(3)       Community Councillor Kennard had agreed with the findings of the Investigating Officer that he breached the Code of Conduct in respect of personal interest and prejudicial interest.

 

(4)       Councillor Kennard had attended a training course on being elected Councillor, the contents of which had included Code of Conduct matters.

 

(5)       Councillor Kennard had agreed to abide by the Code of Conduct.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Kennard

 

(1)       Councillor Kennard had agreed with the findings of the Investigating Officer that he had breached the Code of Conduct in respect of personal interest and prejudicial interest.

 

(2)       Councillor Kennard had been advised by the Chair of the Community Council that he did not have an interest in the matter.  He now regretted having taken that advice.

 

(3)       Councillor Kennard had subsequently sought advice regarding another planning application and had subsequently declared an interest and withdrawn. 

 

Resolution (4)

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The minutes of the meetings of Colwinston Community Council of 21st August 2012 and 12th April 2013 which show that Councillor Kennard was present and did not declare an interest whilst the planning application relating to Land to the South of Hen Cartref, Colwinston, was discussed.

 

(2)       Evidence that Councillor Kennard contributed to the Community Council decision to write to the Vale of Glamorgan Council opposing the proposal.

(3)       The Clerk to Colwinston Community Council wrote to the Vale of Glamorgan Council outlining the Community Council’s objection to the proposal.

 

(4)       Councillor Kennard also sent a personal letter of objection to the Vale of Glamorgan Council in response to its earlier consultation letter.

 

(5)       As a Community Councillor, Councillor Kennard’s discussions with a member of staff of the Vale of Glamorgan Council which led to the Community Council being able to submit, an appeal for consideration by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

(6)       The minute of the meeting of the Colwinston Community Council of 12th April 2013 at which Councillor Kennard provided information about the forthcoming planning appeal, including advising on his earlier comments with the officer of the Vale of Glamorgan Council (see above).

 

(7)       Councillor Kennard’s e-mail to the Vale of Glamorgan Council on behalf of Colwinston Community Council dated 26th April 2013 making points about the forthcoming planning appeal.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Kennard

 

(1)       Councillor Kennard’s home is directly opposite the Site.

 

(2)       Councillor Kennard had been advised by the Chairman of the Community Council that he did not have an interest.  He now regretted having taken that advice.

 

(3)       Councillor Kennard’s response to the Vale of Glamorgan on the planning application had been as an individual and not as a Community Councillor.

 

(4)       Councillor Kennard strongly disagreed that he had used his position to 'seek to gain an advantage' or 'influence a Council decision'.

 

(5)       Councillor Kennard disagreed with the suggestion that he played a 'leading role' in Council decisions on this matter.

 

Resolution (5)

 

It was the view of the Standards Committee that Councillor Kennard’s understanding of his requirements under the Members’ Code of Conduct was deficient, and further training was required to address this. 

 

Resolutions (6) and (7)

 

To comply with the provisions of the Local Government Investigations (Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2001.

 

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook