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STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 5th November, 2014.

 

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

 

 

574     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Mrs. M.J. Pearce.

 

           

575     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

Councillor C.P. Franks declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 in that he knew one of the applicants for dispensation, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey.

 

Councillor Franks vacated the room whilst this item was under consideration.

 

 

576     MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 31st July, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

577     APPLICATIONS 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.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the dispensations as set out in the schedule below be granted as indicated.

 

[View Dispensations Granted]

 

Reason for decision

 

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

 

 

578     HOSPITALITY (MO) -

 

Committee were provided with an overview of the meaning of the word 'Hospitality’ in relation to the Members Code of Conduct as requested at the meeting of the Standards Committee on 11th April, 2014.

 

Committee were advised of the wording as contained in the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Code of Conduct for Members, in particular Paragraph 9(b) which states:

 

'You must -

 

(b)       avoid accepting from anyone gifts, hospitality (other than official hospitality such as a civic reception or a work lunch duly authorised by your authority), material benefits or services for yourself or any person which might place you, or reasonably appear to place you, under an improper obligation.'

 

Committee were also advised of the guidance of the Public Services’ Ombudsman for Wales when referring to gifts and hospitality, i.e.

 

'It’s important that you don’t accept any gifts or hospitality for yourself, or on behalf of others, which would place you under obligation or appear to do so.  Accepting such gifts or hospitality could be regarded as compromising your objectivity when you make decisions or carry out the work of your Council.  This is also true of any services or gifts in kind.

 

This does not prevent you from attending official events such as a civic reception or working lunch where these are authorised by your authority.'

 

Committee were also advised that the Vale of Glamorgan Council on 23rd April, 2008 determined the following amounts above which receipt must be declared: 

  • Gifts - £50
  • Hospitality - £25.

Subsequently, the Council on 21st May, 2008 determined that Material Benefits / Advantages be also declared.

 

Having considered the above, Members of the Committee enquired if, having registered receipt of a gift or hospitality, the recipient was then entitled to keep the gift or hospitality.  In response, the Monitoring Officer explained that that was a decision for the individual Member,  having regard to the guidance of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. 

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having regard to the contents of the report.

 

 

579     LOCAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURE (MO) -

 

Committee were provided with a progress report regarding implementation of a Local Dispute Resolution Procedure.

 

Standards Committee on 11th April, 2014 had been requested to consider and agree an informal Local Dispute Resolution Procedure to address low level complaints of breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct and Protocol - Standard of Conduct Expected by Members, in response to Welsh Government and the former Public Services Ombudsman for Wales concerns.

 

Standards Committee had

 

Resolved -

 

(1)       That the Local Dispute Resolution Procedure for the Vale of Glamorgan Council as attached at Appendix A to the report be agreed.

 

(2)       That the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Group Leaders be consulted regarding the contents of the Local Dispute Resolution Procedure.

 

(3)       That the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Chair of the Standards Committee, be given delegated authority to consider the comments from the Group Leaders and amend the Local Dispute Resolution Procedure if deemed appropriate.

 

(4)       That, subject to any amendments in light of Resolution (3) above, the Local Dispute Resolution Procedure be referred to Council with a recommendation that it be incorporated into the Council’s Constitution.

 

(5)       That a progress report be submitted to the next meeting of the Standards Committee.

 

Committee noted that, with regard to Resolutions (3) and (4) above, no requests/ suggestions or amendments to the procedure were received from Group Leaders. 

 

Standards Committee were further advised that the meeting of the Council on 25th June, 2014 had

 

Resolved - That the Local Dispute Resolution Procedure be approved and incorporated into the Council’s Constitution.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

For the information of Members of the Standards Committee.

 

 

580     NEW WELSH MODEL CONSTITUTION - USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA (MO) -

 

Committee was updated following its earlier decision regarding the New Welsh Model Constitution. 

 

Standards Committee on 5th December, 2013 had requested that a report be brought before a future meeting of the Committee informing that reference to the use of Social Media had been added to the Protocol re Standards of Conduct expected by Members.  Standards Committee, on 5th December, 2013 had received a report on the draft 'Protocol - Standards of Conduct Expected by Members’.

 

In approving the document for inclusion within the Council’s Constitution, it was the wish of the Standards Committee that the Monitoring Officer incorporate reference to the use of social media, and report back to the Standards Committee.

 

A copy of the Protocol re Standards of Conduct Expected by Members, incorporating reference to the use of social media was presented to Committee in April 2014 and agreed thereafter at Council on 25th June, 2014 and the revised protocol  had been incorporated into the Council’s Constitution.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

For the information of Members of the Standards Committee.

 

 

581     CODE OF CONDUCT TRAINING FOR TOWN AND COMMUNITY COUNCILLORS (MO) -

 

Committee were advised of training that had been provided / offered to all Members of the Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

A Charter existed between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Town and Community Councils, part of which required Town and Community Council Clerks and Councillors Elected / Appointed post November 2012 to receive a presentation on the role of the Monitoring Officer and Members Code of Conduct.

 

To this end, a training session had been held on 1st October, 2014.

 

The training session had been introduced and addressed by the Monitoring Officer, and the Chairman of the Standards Committee, who provided an overview of the Standards Committee.

 

Training had been delivered by the organisation 'One Voice Wales, the Voice of Community and Town Councils in Wales’, and the cost met by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

There had been 15 attendees (of which 3 were Clerks, 1 was a Deputy Clerk, 2 were Vale of Glamorgan Members attending in their role as Town/Community Councillors and 9 were Town or Community Councillors).

 

Following the session, all attendees were invited to complete a Feedback Questionnaire, comprising 6 questions and give a score of between 1 and 6 (score 1 low, 6 high). 

 

Overall the satisfaction rate for all questions amounted to 5.62. 

 

The Monitoring Officer was in the process of arranging further Code of Conduct Training, to be held on 4th December, 2014. 

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To inform Members of the Standards Committee.

 

 

582     ANNUAL REPORTS (MO) -

 

(i)         Public Services Ombudsman for Wales 2013/14 -

 

Following discussion of the above report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales 2013/14 Annual Report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having regard to the contents of the Annual Report.

 

 

(ii)        Adjudication Panel for Wales 2012/13 -

 

Following discussion of the above report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the Adjudication Panel for Wales Annual Report for 2012/13 be noted.

 

 

Reason for decision

 

Having regard to the contents of the Annual Report.

 

 

583     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

584     AUDIT BRIEFS - (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPH 18A) - (MO) -

 

Standards Committee were advised of the outcome of relevant audit work undertaken as part of the Internal Audit Plan for 2014/15.

 

Standards Committee, on 11th April, 2014 was informed that Audit Briefs had been discussed and agreed. 

 

The objectives of the Audits were: 

  • to ensure compliance to the Council’s Constitution/Code of Conduct in relation to the declaration and acceptance of any gift or hospitality by both officers and Members
  • to ensure Members’ compliance to the Code of Conduct in relation to declarations of interest and dispensations granted/refused by the Standards Committee.

 

The reports prepared by Internal Audit following the investigations were attached as Appendix A and Appendix B to the report.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the outcome of the Audits be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having been apprised of the outcome of the Audits.