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STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 31st July, 2014.

 

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

 

Also present for Agenda Item No. 4: Community Councillor L. Scaglioni, represented by Mr. D. Roberts and Ms. B. Jones (Investigating Officer from the Office of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales).

 

 

291      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor C.P. Franks.

 

           

292     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

           

293     MINUTES –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meetings held on 18th and 19th June 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

294     ALLEGATIONS OF FAILURE TO OBSERVE THE MEMBERS’ CODE OF CONDUCT MADE AGAINST COMMUNITY COUNCILLOR LINO SCAGLIONI OF SULLY AND LAVERNOCK COMMUNITY COUNCIL (MO) –

 

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 Acting Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in respect of allegations against Community Councillor L. Scaglioni, a Member and then Chairman of Sully and Lavernock Community Council.  The Committee having considered the report of the Acting Public Services Ombudsman Investigating Officer made an initial determination that there was a case to answer and resolved that:

 

(1)          T H A T Community Councillor C 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)          T H A T 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.

 

The Ombudsman had received a complaint from Councillor Kevin Mahoney that Councillor Scaglioni had failed to observe the Code of Conduct for Members of Sully and Lavernock Community Council.  It was alleged that Councillor Scaglioni, the then Chairman of the Council, had told the Clerk not to deal with Council business raised by Councillor Mahoney set out in an e-mail but later denied having done so in a Council meeting.

 

Councillor Mahoney also alleged that he believed that Councillor Scaglioni had been attempting to exclude him from Council business and had subsequently misled the Council about what he had done.  Councillor Mahoney stated that Councillor Scaglioni had also banned him from using the website of the Sully and Lavernock Residents’ Association (SLRA). 

 

Further, Councillor Mahoney alleged that he believed that some of the responses he received from the Council were inadequate and often disingenuous and he stated that he often needed to persist in order to obtain the true facts.

 

Councillor Mahoney had complained that friction had arisen between himself and Councillor Scaglioni which he alleged resulted in Councillor Mahoney being prevented from raising legitimate concerns in meetings about the maintenance of community buildings and about a range of other Community Council business.  He stated that he had become unable to fulfil his role on the Community Council as a result and was being denied information to which he stated he was entitled.

 

Having considered the complaint, it was the conclusion of the Investigating Officer that it was appropriate to determine whether there was any evidence to show that Councillor Scaglioni may have failed to comply with any of the following provisions of the Code of Conduct, including any evidence suggesting a breach of the following provisions:

 

(a)       Paragraph 4(b): You must show respect and consideration for others.

(b)       Paragraph 6(1)(a): You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.

(c)       Paragraph 7(a): You must not in your official capacity or otherwise, use or attempt to use your position improperly to confer on or secure for yourself, or any other person, an advantage or create or avoid for yourself, or any other person, a disadvantage.

(d)       Paragraph 7(b): You must not use, or authorise others to use, the resources of your authority improperly for (v) political or (vi) private purposes.

 

The analysis of the evidence was set out at pages 21 and 22 of the Ombudsman’s Investigation Report, and the conclusions of the Ombudsman’s investigations are summarised below:

  • There is insufficient evidence to support the allegation that Councillor Scaglioni's management of the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association ("SLRA") website engaged paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code, either in relation to Councillor Mahoney or others (paragraph 95 refers).
  • With regard to possible breaches of paragraphs 7(a) or 7(b) of the Code, there is insufficient evidence to support the view that Councillor Scaglioni was seeking to disadvantage Councillor Mahoney or deny him access to Council business (paragraph 99 refers).
  • The impact of Article 10 and recent case law in relation to verbal exchanges between members has been considered, where it has been established that Members must expect robust and sometimes even offensive exchanges within the context of political debate.  There is insufficient information from the minutes of meetings to come to the view that verbal exchanges between the parties may have exceeded the threshold (paragraph 101 refers).
  • The contents of Councillor Scaglioni's emails (dated 25th September 2012, 13th December 2012, 18th December 2012 and 4th January 2013) as outlined in paragraph 69 could be viewed as inappropriate, and I therefore believe that they may be suggestive of breaches under paragraphs 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Code (paragraph 113 refers).
  • However, this is a matter for the Council to decide, namely whether they feel the comments in Councillor Scaglioni's emails were remarks which were "political" in nature and therefore attract the protection of Article 10(1) or whether they were an attack on the reputation or rights of Councillor Mahoney, in which case they do not attract protection and therefore may be viewed as breaches of the Code (paragraph 114 refers).

The Chairman reminded the Committee that it would be investigating the findings of the Ombudsman in relation to the e-mails (see 4th bullet point above).

 

Details of the e-mails in question are set out below:

  • An e-mail dated 25th September 2012 (Appendix 15 of the Investigation Report) from Councillor Scaglioni to Councillor Mahoney, which was a private exchange following a previous verbal challenge from Councillor Mahoney at a meeting, in which Councillor Scaglioni lists some of his achievements for Sully.  The e-mail goes on to say that Councillor Mahoney has done nothing but shoot his mouth off and that Councillor Mahoney is an unruly loudmouth with nothing to offer and said 'Take notice, I will have nothing to do with you henceforth.  Do not reply to this e-mail as it will be binned unread.'
  • An e-mail dated 13th December 2012 (Appendix 28 of the Investigation Report) from Councillor Scaglioni to Councillor Mahoney, saying he had instructed the Clerk to accept no more e-mails from Councillor Mahoney and to ignore any comments he may have until his behaviour improvements.  This is believed to be the response to Councillor Mahoney e-mails to the Clerk as set out in Appendix 1, pages 6 to 10.
  • An e-mail from 18th December 2012 (Appendix 29 of the Investigation Report) from Councillor Scaglioni to Councillor Mahoney copied to all members referring indirectly to Councillor Mahoney’s complaint about the poor condition of the shower heads in the Sports Pavilion, describing Councillor Mahoney as a purported expert in all things concerning gas and plumbing and perhaps that after the new shower heads are fitted, the Council can ask him to strip off and shower in front of all them, except a female councillor, so it could be ascertained why he had not noticed the condition of the shower heads before becoming a member, when he had previously used the facilities as a player.
  • An e-mail from 4th January 2013 (Appendix 30 of the Investigation Report) from Councillor Scaglioni to Michael Melvin, a member of the public, responding to criticism of how he manages the SLRA website and does not allow opposing views to his to be expressed on it.  Councillor Scaglioni replied that in relation to wards business, Councillor Penrose is to be supported but “the other guy spends all his time attacking the Clerk, councillors and being rude, obstructive and useless.

In attempting to establish the facts of the case, the Chairman enquired if the e-mails had been sent by Councillor Scaglioni and Mr. Roberts replied that the e-mails had been sent by Councillor Scaglioni as an individual, and not as a Councillor.  Mr. Roberts added that the e-mails had not been sent from the Council’s e-mail address.

 

The Chairman invited questions, there being no questions, all parties vacated the room whilst the Standards Committee deliberated on the information it had received.

 

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

 

1.         That the Deputy 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 Scaglioni’s actions were indicative of breaches of the Code of Conduct for Members of Sully and Lavernock Community Council.

 

The Chairman confirmed that it was now incumbent upon the Standards Committee to determine whether Councillor Scaglioni had failed to comply with the Code.

 

Ms. Jones was asked if she wished to make any further points and outlined the details of her Investigation Report, summarised as follows:

 

-               Councillor Mahoney had given information to the Community Council regarding Health and Safety issues to which Councillor Scaglioni was dismissive

-               Councillor Mahoney claimed that his relationship with Councillor Scaglioni had deteriorated from that point

-               Councillor Mahoney had stated that he was trying to act in the public’s interest

-               Councillor Mahoney said that he had received e-mails of a highly personal nature from Councillor Scaglioni.

 

Ms. Jones read the contents of the e-mails in question to the Committee.  It was the Ombudsman’s contention that the e-mails amounted to a breach of Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Code of Conduct. 

 

During an interview with the Investigating Officer, Councillor Scaglioni had acknowledged that he had sent the e-mails and stood by their contents. 

 

Ms. Jones called Councillor Mahoney as a witness.

 

Councillor Mahoney entered the room.

 

Ms. Jones referred to the statement by Councillor Mahoney as contained within the Investigation Report and asked Councillor Mahoney to inform the Committee of the issues that had arisen as a result of problems with the boiler at the Sully and Lavernock Community Council. 

 

Councillor Mahoney advised that the buildings were owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and were leased to Sully and Lavernock Community Council.  Councillor Mahoney was aware that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was carrying out an audit of the buildings in their ownership.

 

Councillor Mahoney had asked for the Community Hall audit to be brought forward in view of his concerns.  He had been to the Sports Hall and had found a locked room and did not know what was inside.  On arranging for the door to be opened, he had found a gas boiler which the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s groundsman had not known was in use. 

 

Councillor Mahoney noticed that there was no flue on the building and later that day, he had e-mailed the Clerk to the Community Council expressing his concerns. 

 

Councillor Mahoney subsequently received a sarcastic response from the Clerk asking for Councillor Mahoney’s gas registration number (Councillor Mahoney was a professional gas fitter) and the e-mail further saying that the Council would have a 'professional' to look at the boiler. 

 

Councillor Mahoney also asked to view the gas safety certificate.

 

As a gas engineer, he was horrified by what he had found as sports teams used the nearby changing rooms and a 'pre' and 'after' playgroup also used a nearby area. 

 

Councillor Mahoney alleged that he was showered with e-mails saying that 'only 50 people died last year from Carbon Monoxide poisoning'. 

 

Councillor Mahoney contacted the Vale of Glamorgan Council Environmental Safety Officer who paid a visit to the boiler.  He referred his findings to the Health and Safety Executive who subsequently investigated the situation and had fined the Council.

 

Councillor Mahoney added that, one year later, the Community Council was found to have not rectified the situation.

 

Ms. Jones, in referring to the e-mails received by Councillor Mahoney, asked for his reaction. 

 

In referring to the e-mails dated 25th September 2012 and 13th December 2012, Councillor Mahoney stated that this meant that he could not carry out his Council business.

 

Councillor Mahoney had made a request to the Community Council for a digital recording device to be installed for meetings of their Council.  The Council had voted against the request.  Councillor Mahoney asked why would he ask for this to have been installed. 

 

Ms. Jones said that there were statements within the Investigation Report which said that Councillor Mahoney had been rude and aggressive in meetings of the Community Council.

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that that was the reason why he had asked for recording devices to be installed.

 

In referring to the e-mail exchanges, Ms. Jones noted that no Council e-mail addresses had been used.

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that the Clerk to the Community Council used his own e-mail account. 

 

To clarify, Ms. Jones asked Councillor Mahoney to confirm that all his e-mails received from Councillor Scaglioni had been sent from Councillor Scaglioni’s own e-mail address. 

 

Members of the Committee were given an opportunity to ask questions and Councillor Mahoney was asked when he had been elected to the Community Council.  Councillor Mahoney advised that he had been elected in May 2012. 

 

Councillor Mahoney was asked if his desire for the electorate’s wellbeing had coloured his behaviour and Councillor Mahoney referred to the attitude he had received from the Community Council, using the words 'harassing' and 'bullying'.

 

Councillor Mahoney had identified matters of concern which he raised directly with the Vale of Glamorgan Council, partly because he was also a Vale of Glamorgan Councillor and additionally, because the buildings were owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

Councillor Mahoney was asked if it was his opinion that the e-mails received from Councillor Scaglioni had been sent by Councillor Scaglioni, Chairman of the Community Council or by Mr. Scaglioni. 

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that the e-mail dated 13th December 2012 had stated that Councillor Scaglioni had instructed the Clerk to accept no more e-mails from Councillor Mahoney.  Councillor Mahoney stated that this e-mail was obviously sent from Councillor Scaglioni.

 

Mr. Roberts stated that he had witnesses who would testify as to the reasons why the e-mails had been sent. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that they would refer to the provocation by Councillor Mahoney to Councillor Scaglioni. 

 

Mr. Baker observed that there was nothing in the Community Council minutes to this affect and expressed the view that all the Standards Committee would be hearing was 'hearsay'. 

 

Mr. Roberts asked Councillor Mahoney how long he had lived in Sully and Councillor Mahoney replied that he lived 150 yards outside of the boundary of Sully.

 

Mr. Roberts asked if Councillor Mahoney made any financial contribution to Sully and Lavernock Community Council and was advised by the Chairman that this question was not relevant.  

 

Mr. Roberts, in referring to an informal meeting that had taken place between Councillor Mahoney, Councillors John and Tatt, asked Councillor Mahoney if he recalled reference at the meeting to Standing Orders.

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that he did not recall.

 

Mr. Roberts advised the Standards Committee that Councillor Mahoney had received the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Standing Orders when he had become a Community Councillor.  Councillor Mahoney had also received training.  Mr. Roberts referred to Standing Order 31, and Councillor Mahoney stated that he did not have the information to hand.

 

Mr. Roberts asked Councillor Mahoney if he had ever poked his finger in someone’s face and Councillor Mahoney replied that he had not. 

 

Mr. Roberts referred to 'unauthorised activities' and asked Councillor Mahoney if he had instructed the groundsman to remove plastic sheeting and had used bad language.

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that it was not an instruction, it was a request to a groundsman that had taken place on a Saturday afternoon.

 

Mr. Roberts referred to a meeting of the Sully and Lavernock Community Council on 6th December. 

 

The Chairman intervened by saying that he was not sure where Mr. Roberts was going with this line of questioning.  Any alleged breaches of Standing Orders by Councillor Mahoney had no connection with the e-mails sent by Councillor Scaglioni.

 

Mr. Roberts referred to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as referred to in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Investigation Report. 

 

Ms. Jones interjected and asked the Committee to refer to Appendix 4 of the Investigation Report.  She further advised that Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights was a 'qualified right'. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that Councillor Mahoney had asked Councillor Scaglioni what he had done for Sully. 

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that he had never asked that question of Councillor Scaglioni.

 

In referring to the use of Community Councillors personal e-mails, Mr. Roberts enquired of Councillor Mahoney how these e-mails could relate to Council business and Councillor Mahoney replied that when he received e-mails from either the Clerk to the Council or the Community Councillors it always related to business connected to the work of the Council. 

 

Furthermore, over the past year, everything that had been sent to Councillor Mahoney from the Community Council had been hand delivered.  

 

To clarify, a Member of the Standards Committee asked Councillor Mahoney if he had been told not to contact the Council by e-mail. 

 

Councillor Mahoney replied that the summation was correct and that he had refrained from using e-mails to correspond with the Community Council until Councillor Scaglioni rescinded his earlier instruction.

 

The Chairman, in referring to the e-mail dated 18th December 2012, asked if the comments regarding Councillor Mahoney stripping off were considered appropriate.

 

Mr. Roberts replied that this was an expression of opinion by Councillor Scaglioni.

 

Mr. Roberts advised the Committee that he wished to call witnesses.

 

Councillor Mahoney vacated the room.

 

Councillor I. Barlow entered the room.

 

In referring to the four e-mails, Mr. Roberts asked Councillor Barlow if he had seen the e-mail dated 25th September 2012.  Councillor Barlow replied that he had not seen it.

 

Mr. Roberts advised the Committee that this was because the e-mail was part of the private exchange between Councillor Scaglioni and Councillor Mahoney.  This was entirely a private matter.

 

Councillor Barlow advised the Committee that he had been a Community Councillor for 28 of the past 32 years and was currently Chair of the Community Council. 

 

In referring to the e-mail dated 13th December 2012, Mr. Roberts asked if Councillor Barlow recalled seeing that e-mail.

 

Councillor Barlow replied that he was aware that the Clerk of the Council was spending so much of his time responding to Councillor Mahoney’s queries, the Clerk was unable to undertake his duties.  The contents of the e-mail dated 13th December 2012 touched upon this issue.

 

In referring to the e-mail dated 18th December 2012, Mr. Roberts asked if Councillor Mahoney had ever expressed in Councillor Barlow’s presence that he was a gas engineer.

 

Councillor Barlow replied yes, Councillor Mahoney had informed the Council that he had some expertise in this matter.

 

Mr. Roberts asked Councillor Barlow about the contents of the e-mail dated 4th January 2013 and Councillor Barlow advised that this referred to the management of the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association website and was not related to the work of Sully and Lavernock Community Council. 

 

Ms. Jones, in referring to Appendix 39 of the Investigation Report which comprised a copy of a contravention notice served on the Community Council, enquired if Councillor Barlow thought Councillor Mahoney had been correct. 

 

Councillor Barlow said that when the letter had been sent, he believed that it was correct.

 

A member of the Standards Committee enquired if the boiler was likely to have deteriorated so much in a period of three months.

 

No answer was given.

 

A further member of the Committee noted that there was no safety certificate on the boiler. 

 

Mr. Roberts responded by stating that when the Vale of Glamorgan Council surveyed the building in November 2012, there was a boiler that had not been checked.  That very day, he contacted a private firm and the required work was carried out. 

 

Ms. Jones then referred to Appendix 21 of the Investigation Report which showed a copy of an Improvement Notice prepared by the Health and Safety Executive which stated 'You do not have in place adequate arrangements for the planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of your measures to ensure the safety of your gas appliances.  There is no system of planned workplace inspections to ensure all equipment is included in maintenance schedules or to identify defects and ensure equipment is maintained in safe condition'.

 

Ms. Jones advised the Committee that this was the very point that was being made by Councillor Mahoney. 

 

In referring to Councillor Barlow’s earlier comment that the e-mail to Councillor Mahoney dated 25th September 2012 was a private affair, a Member of the Committee enquired how this could be the case if this very issue had been raised in a meeting of the Community Council.  In other words, was this alleged to be a private response to matters that had been raised in public.

 

Councillor Barlow replied that the e-mail had been sent to Councillor Mahoney from a private e-mail address.

 

A member of the Standards Committee observed that all Councillors on the Community Council used private e-mail addresses.  Sully and Lavernock Community Council was the only Community Council in the Vale of Glamorgan with no website. 

 

Councillor Barlow replied that when he used his private e-mail address, he made it clear to the recipient that he was responding as either a Community Councillor or as a private individual.  On reflection, Councillor Barlow further advised that he did not always clarify this point – he took it for granted that the recipient would realise in which capacity Councillor Barlow was sending the e-mail.

 

His recollection of the e-mail in question, i.e. the e-mail dated 25th September 2012, was that the issue had been raised in a meeting of the Community Council but that Councillor Scaglioni had chosen to respond privately. 

 

In referring to the words 'Councillor Mahoney has done nothing but shoot his mouth off' and 'that Councillor Mahoney is an unruly loudmouth with nothing to offer', a member of the Committee enquired if this was a worthy comment from someone in public office. 

 

Councillor Barlow replied that people had different ways of dealing with different issues. 

 

Members of the Committee noted that the e-mail had been signed off 'Chairman of the Council'.  A further member of the Committee observed that the e-mail had been viewed by many people. 

 

It was noted by the Committee that Sully and Lavernock Community Council did not possess an official website but that the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association website contained much overlap between the Residents Association and Sully and Lavernock Community Council. 

 

Councillor Barlow accepted that the Community Council did not have a website. 

 

There being no further questions, Councillor Barlow vacated the room.

 

Mr. Roberts called Community Councillor Viv John as a witness.

 

In referring to the four e-mails in question, Mr. Roberts asked Community Councillor John if he was aware of the e-mail dated 25th September 2012. 

 

Councillor John replied that he was unaware of the e-mail.

 

Mr. Roberts asked Councillor John if he was aware of the contents of the e-mail dated 13th December and Councillor John replied that he was unaware of its contents.

 

The Chairman observed that Councillor John’s personal e-mail address was on the distribution list for the e-mail.

 

Councillor John then stated that, if he was included on the distribution list, then he must have received the e-mail.

 

Mr. Roberts enquired if Councillor John recalled the Clerk to the Council being instructed not to have anything to do with Councillor Mahoney.

 

Councillor John stated that he did recall.  Councillor Scaglioni, as Chairman of the Council, did instruct the Clerk to not accept e-mails from Councillor Mahoney but later sent a private e-mail with a caveat that e-mails could be accepted.

 

Councillor Scaglioni had instructed the Clerk that he should not accept e-mails but later added the caveat that the Clerk could receive e-mails.

 

A member of the Standards Committee asked if the original decision was one taken at a meeting of the Community Council and was told yes. 

 

In referring to attempts to achieve an 'improvement in Councillor Mahoney’s behaviour', Mr. Roberts asked if Councillor John remembered meeting with Councillor Mahoney to discuss his behaviour.

 

Councillor John did recall such a meeting and that Councillor Tatt was also present.  Councillor John added that attempts had been made to reason with Councillor Mahoney.  It was felt that the way Councillor Mahoney worked was not conducive to good order.  Also, Standing Orders were not being followed.  Councillor John alleged that Councillor Mahoney had stated that he did not care about Standing Orders and that following this, the meeting had not progressed much further.

 

Mr. Roberts asked if the details of this meeting had been reported to the Community Council and Councillor John replied that yes, a report had been presented to the Community Council. 

 

A member of the Standards Committee observed that the details of this meeting had not been produced to the Committee as evidence. 

 

The Chairman ruled that in the absence of evidence, anything that was said concerning the meeting was hearsay. 

 

Mr. Roberts, in referring to Councillor Scaglioni’s chairmanship of the Community Council, enquired if Councillor Mahoney was given an equal opportunity to speak at meetings of the Council and Councillor John replied yes. 

 

Mr. Roberts asked Councillor John how the Community Council had operated since Councillor Mahoney had resigned and Councillor John replied that the meetings had been conducted with less friction.

 

Ms. Jones enquired if the issues surrounding the maintenance of equipment were the reason for friction and Councillor John replied yes.

 

Ms. Jones referred to an e-mail from the Sully Residents Association to a number of Community Councillors (Appendix 12 to the Investigation Report) in which reference was made to there being about 50 CO deaths in a year in the UK. 

 

Councillor John replied that the boiler was situated in a locked space.  The only danger would have been to the person opening the door.  Councillor John added that he knew that Councillor Mahoney knew that the boiler was in the cupboard.

 

A member of the Committee observed that Councillor Mahoney had earlier told the Committee that he did not know what was behind the locked door.

 

Ms. Jones reminded the members of the Committee that Councillor Mahoney had to get somebody to unlock the door.  Ms. Jones added that she was staggered by Councillor John’s complacency as expressed in the e-mail. 

 

A member of the Committee, in referring to Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Standing Orders, referred to the Standing Order relating to 'disorderly behaviour' and enquired if the Chairman of the Council had ever invoked this Standing Order. 

 

Councillor John replied no. 

 

A member of the Committee enquired why no one could understand the significance of what Councillor Mahoney was saying. 

 

In referring to Councillor John’s earlier comment about the danger to the first person to open the door of the cupboard, a Member of the Standards Committee stated that the first person to enter the room could potentially have been the groundsman. 

 

A member of the Committee enquired as to the outcome of the meeting between Councillor Mahoney, Councillor John and Councillor Tatt and was advised that Councillor Mahoney had agreed to come 'half way', but nothing practical ever happened.

 

There being no further questions, Councillor John vacated the room.

 

The meeting adjourned until 1:30 p.m.

 

The meeting reconvened with all members present.

 

Mr. Roberts called Councillor C. Tatt as a witness.

 

Councillor Tatt explained that he had been a Community Councillor for some 9/10 years and during that period he had been Chairman of the Community Council. 

 

Mr. Roberts spoke of the e-mails, in particular the e-mail dated 25th September 2012 and asked Councillor Tatt if he was aware of its contents.

 

Councillor Tatt replied that he thought he may have seen it and referred to an exchange that had taken place at a meeting of the Community Council. 

 

Councillor Tatt stated that he recalled the friction between Councillor Mahoney and Councillor Scaglioni.  The Members of the Community Council were concerned about the friction in meetings of the Council.

 

A meeting had taken place between a number of Community Councillors and Councillor Mahoney.  Councillor Tatt believed that the meeting had taken place in January 2013. 

 

A meeting had first taken place with Councillor Mahoney in his house at which Councillor Mahoney was told that his overall behaviour in meetings was disruptive.  Strong debate can take place in the meetings, but it was Councillor Tatt’s belief that the Members should comply with Standing Orders.  Councillor Mahoney’s response was 'what of Standing Orders?'.

 

Councillor Tatt explained that he had never seen such behaviour in meetings of the Community Council in his time as a Councillor.  Councillor Tatt was aware that Councillor Mahoney was also on the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  It was Councillor Tatt’s belief that, when siting in meetings of the Community Council, Councillor Mahoney was wearing the 'wrong' hat. 

 

A subsequent meeting was also held with Councillor Scaglioni and Councillor Mahoney at which they were told that they should modify their approach.

 

Councillor Tatt reported back on what had transpired.  He had completed a file note and reported the outcome of the meeting to a meeting of the Community Council. 

 

A member of the Standards Committee asked if she could see a copy of the report but nothing was forthcoming.

 

Councillor Tatt stated that he had also sought advice from the Monitoring Officer and had met with her.  The advice of the Monitoring Officer had been that it was accepted that in the political hurly burly, things could get heated but there were Standing Orders for dealing with such matters.

 

The Members of the Community Council were concerned about Councillor Mahoney’s treatment of the Clerk to the Community Council.

 

The Chairman referred to Appendix 33 to the Investigation Report which comprised a note, prepared by the Monitoring Officer, of her meeting. 

 

Mr. Roberts referred to the e-mail dated 13th December 2012 and asked if Councillor Tatt had seen the e-mail. 

 

Councillor Tatt stated that he did not recall having seen the e-mail.

 

Mr. Roberts enquired if, having read the e-mail, Councillor Tatt would consider the contents to have been offensive and Councillor Tatt replied that he would not have been too upset if the e-mail had been sent to him.

 

Mr. Roberts, in referring to the e-mail dated 4th January 2013 referred to the relationship between the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association and the Community Council.  Mr. Roberts pointed out that when using the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association website, Councillor Scaglioni was sending e-mails as Mr. Scaglioni, not as Councillor Scaglioni. 

 

Councillor Tatt advised that he understood the e-mail to have been sent privately and not on behalf of the Community Council. 

 

Mr. Roberts enquired if Councillor Mahoney ignored Standing Order 31(a) (Disorderly Conduct). 

 

Councillor Tatt replied that this had not occurred at every meeting, but had occurred at most meetings. 

 

Mr. Roberts enquired if, when Councillor Scaglioni was Chairman of the Community Council, Councillor Mahoney had been given equal opportunity with other Community Councillors and Councillor Tatt replied yes.  Mr. Roberts enquired how the Community Council had operated since Councillor Mahoney had resigned and Councillor Tatt replied 'harmoniously'. 

 

In referring to an earlier comment that Councillor Mahoney was wearing the 'wrong hat', a Member of the Committee enquired if that comment was in relation to any particular topic. 

 

Councillor Tatt replied that Councillor Mahoney often took it upon himself to take an issue up with the Vale of Glamorgan Council, thereby bypassing the Chairman of the Community Council.

 

In referring to the meeting between Councillor John, Councillor Tatt and Councillor Scaglioni, it had been reported that Councillor Scaglioni was open to mediation.  A Member of the Committee enquired what, in practical terms, had happened. 

 

Councillor Tatt replied that Councillor Scaglioni had said that he would consider what had been said to him.  Councillor Tatt believed that Councillor Scaglioni held back longer when provoked. 

 

Councillor Tatt was asked why the other Community Councillors had not made a complaint to the Ombudsman about Councillor Mahoney’s behaviour and Councillor Tatt replied that they had hoped things would not come to that.

 

In referring to the e-mail dated 18th December 2012, Councillor Tatt was reminded of his earlier comment that he would not have been offended to have received that e-mail.  A Member of the Committee pointed out that the relationship between Councillor Scaglioni and Councillor Mahoney was not a friendly one.  Why should Councillor Scaglioni have said what he said as a joke.  It was observed that the comments seemed to be sarcastic.

 

In referring to the Sully and Lavernock Community Council Standing Orders, a Member of the Standards Committee observed that the Chairman of the Community Council could take action when there was questionable behaviour taking place at meetings of the Community Council.  Why hadn’t action been taken against Councillor Mahoney? 

 

Councillor Tatt replied that he wished action had been taken.

 

There being no further questions, Councillor Tatt vacated the room.

 

Councillor Scaglioni asked to address the Committee and stated that he wanted to clear the situation regarding the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association website.  The Sully and Lavernock Residents Association had been set up five years ago.  Houses in the locality received e-mails concerning village matters three to four times per day.  They are also sent news items.  Councillor Scaglioni acts as the central point in that people send him e-mails and he sends them out to other people.  The rules of the organisation are that e-mails must not be political, sectarian or religious.  The website was open to anyone in Sully to join. 

 

Councillor Scaglioni used the website for his e-mails. 

 

He further stated that he wished to state that he was old fashioned in his ways.  He did not use words as weapons against an individual.

 

Councillor Scaglioni admitted that he had lost his temper and added that he was Italian and could be volatile.  Sometimes he said things that he knew he shouldn’t have. 

 

In referring to the interview notes which formed part of the Investigation Report, Mr. Roberts stated that the relationship between Councillor Mahoney and the Clerk of the Community Council had been good.  Over time, Councillor Mahoney’s manner had changed and the Clerk at one point had considered resigning from the Council.  It was only the support of the other Community Councillors that had prevented him from doing so. 

 

There was considerable antagonism between the parties and extreme provocation had occurred. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that the e-mails in question had been private.

 

At this point, Members of the Standards Committee pointed out that the e-mails had not been private as was evidenced by the distribution lists of the e-mails. 

 

Mr. Roberts asked the Members of the Standards Committee to consider the allegations 'beyond reasonable doubt'. 

 

The Chairman reminded Mr. Roberts that it was the duty of the Committee to determine the issue 'on the balance of probability'. 

 

Mr. Roberts advised that, with the balance of hindsight, he felt that it would have been better if the Members of the Community Council had mediated with Councillor Mahoney, but that Councillor Mahoney had flatly refused to meet with the Clerk. 

 

Mr. Roberts referred to Councillor Mahoney having opened a website.  A Member of the Standards Committee enquired when this had taken place but Mr. Roberts replied that he did not know. 

 

Mr. Roberts advised the Committee that, on the balance of probability, the e-mails from Councillor Scaglioni had been probably written in a private capacity although Mr. Roberts acknowledged that they had been widely circulated.

 

On the balance of probability, Mr. Roberts felt that the e-mails did not breach the Code of Conduct.

 

A Member of the Standards Committee replied that the e-mails dated 13th December 2012 and 18th December 2012 were addressed to all Councillors and referred to Council business.  The fact that they had been signed 'Lino Scaglioni' did not suggest that they were private.  Furthermore, the fact that they had been sent from the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association website meant nothing. 

 

Mr. Roberts was asked if he accepted this statement and Mr. Roberts replied that he noted the contents of the question. 

 

Another Member of the Standards Committee observed that the role of the Chairman of the Community Council was a public office and everything that had been said was for public view.  The Member enquired if Councillor Scaglioni’s e-mails would draw derision to Councillor Mahoney. 

 

Councillor Scaglioni advised the Committee that, with hindsight, he should not have referred to Councillor Mahoney 'stripping off' in the e-mail dated 18th December 2012. 

 

Councillor Scaglioni was asked about the Welsh Government’s attempts to encourage all Community Councils to establish websites and asked if the Community Council had done anything about this.

 

Mr. Roberts replied that a resident in the Village had offered his services.  A site had been registered but the website had not yet been developed.

 

In referring to the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Code of Conduct, in particular paragraphs 4(b) and 6, the Chairman of the Standards Committee asked Councillor Scaglioni if he thought he had brought his office into disrepute and a result of the contents of the e-mails and Councillor Scaglioni replied that no, he did not believe that to be the case.  However, Councillor Scaglioni added that if he had thought about it, he may well have reworded the e-mails. 

 

There being no further questions, Councillor Scaglioni asked if he could leave the meeting in order to return to his business.

 

The Chairman stated that Councillor Scaglioni may well have been asked to make further representations to the Committee to which Councillor Scaglioni replied that he believed that all the Members of the Committee were sensible people and he had every confidence in them arriving at the correct decision.

 

There were no further questions.

 

Prior to all parties vacating the room, the Deputy 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 that it was the decision of the Standards Committee that all of the allegations made against Community Councillor L. Scaglioni had been proven on the balance of probability to the satisfaction of the Committee.

 

It was now necessary for the Committee to consider what sanction (if any) should be taken against Councillor Scaglioni.

 

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  4(b) of the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor L. Scaglioni made inappropriate and personal comments about Councillor K. Mahoney in an e-mail dated 25th September 2012, Councillor Scaglioni be suspended from being a Member of Sully and Lavernock Community Council for a period of six months.

 

(2)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee, and contrary to Paragraphs 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor L. Scaglioni made inappropriate and personal comments about Councillor K. Mahoney in an e-mail dated 13th December 2012, Councillor Scaglioni be suspended from being a Member of Sully and Lavernock Community Council for a period of six months.

 

(3)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee, and contrary to Paragraphs 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor L. Scaglioni made inappropriate and personal comments about Councillor K. Mahoney in an e-mail dated 18th December 2012, Councillor Scaglioni be suspended from being a Member of Sully and Lavernock Community Council for a period of six months.

 

(4)       T H A T, arising from the decision of the Standards Committee, and contrary to Paragraphs 4(b) and 6(1)(a) of the Sully and Lavernock Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Community Councillor L. Scaglioni made inappropriate and personal comments about Councillor K. Mahoney in an e-mail dated 4th January 2013, Councillor Scaglioni be suspended from being a Member of Sully and Lavernock Community Council for a period of six months.

 

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

 

(6)       T H A T Community Councillor L. Scaglioni 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

            Llandrindod 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 contents of the e-mail sent by Councillor Scaglioni to Councillor Mahoney dated 25th September 2012.

 

(2)       There was little distinction between the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association website and the Sully and Lavernock Community Council.  The fact that the e-mail had been sent to Councillor Mahoney from the Sully and Lavernock Residents Association’s e-mail address would have made little difference.

 

(3)       The contents of the e-mail sent to Councillor Mahoney referred to something that had occurred at a meeting of the Sully and Lavernock Community Council.

 

(4)       The e-mail was signed 'Lino'.

 

(5)       Councillor Scaglioni’s statement to the Committee that 'he sometimes said things that he knew he shouldn’t have'.

 

(6)       Councillor Scaglioni’s statement to the Committee that 'if he had thought about it, he may well have reworded the e-mails'.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Scaglioni

 

(1)       Councillor Scaglioni stood by the contents of the e-mails.

 

(2)       The e-mail had been sent to Councillor Mahoney in a private capacity.

 

(3)       Councillor Scaglioni had acknowledged that he had sent the e-mail.

 

 

Resolution (2)

 

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The contents of the e-mail dated 13th December 2012.

 

(2)       The e-mail had been distributed widely and could therefore not be considered as 'a private exchange'.

 

(3)       Councillor Scaglioni had acknowledged that he had sent the e-mail and stood by its contents.

 

(4-6)    The e-mail had been signed 'Lino Scaglioni'.

 

(7)       The content of the e-mail would draw derision to Councillor Mahoney.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Scaglioni

 

(1)       Statement at the meeting that the e-mails from Councillor Scaglioni had “probably been written in a private capacity, although it was acknowledged that they had been widely circulated.

 

(2)       There was much friction between Councillors Scaglioni and Mahoney.

 

 

Resolution (3)

 

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The content of the e-mail dated 18th December 2012.

 

(2)       The e-mail had been distributed widely, and could therefore not be considered as a private exchange.

 

(3)       Councillor Scaglioni had acknowledged that he had sent the e-mail and stood by its contents.

 

(4)       The e-mail had been signed 'Lino'.

 

(5)       The wording in the e-mail regarding Councillor Mahoney 'stripping off' was considered to be inappropriate, especially in view of the friction between Councillors Scaglioni and Mahoney.

 

(6)       Councillor Scaglioni’s statement to the Committee that he 'sometimes said things that he knew he shouldn’t have'.

 

(7)       Councillor Scaglioni’s statement to the Committee that 'if he had thought about it, he may well have re-worded the e-mails'.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Scaglioni

 

(1)       Statement at the meeting that the e-mail from Councillor Scaglioni had 'probably been written in a private capacity', although it was acknowledged that they had been widely circulated.

 

(2)       Statement at the meeting by Councillor Scaglioni that 'he sometimes said things that he knew he shouldn’t have'.

 

(3)       There was much friction between Councillors Scaglioni and Mahoney.

 

 

Resolution (4)

 

Evidence on behalf of the Ombudsman

 

(1)       The contents of the e-mail dated 4th January 2013.

 

(2)       Councillor Scaglioni acknowledged that he had sent the e-mail and stood by its contents.

 

(3)       The e-mail had been signed 'Lino'.

 

(4)       Councillor Scaglioni’s statement to the Committee that 'he sometimes said things that he knew he shouldn’t have'.

 

(5)       Councillor Scaglioni’s statement to the Committee that 'if he had thought about it, he may well have re-worded the e-mails'.        

 

(6)       The content of the e-mail would draw derision to Councillor Mahoney.

 

Evidence on behalf of Councillor Scaglioni

 

(1)       Councillor Scaglioni stood by the contents of the e-mail.

 

(2)       The e-mail had been marked 'Private'.

 

(3)       There was much friction between Councillors Scaglioni and Mahoney.

 

Resolution (5)

 

It was the view of the Standards Committee that Councillor Scaglioni’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.

 

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