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STANDARDS COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 6th July, 2015.

 

Present:  Mr. J.F. Baker, Mr. D. Carsley, Mr. A.G. Hallett, Mr. A. Lane and Mrs. M.J. Pearce and Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore.

 

 

176     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors K. Hatton and Mrs. M. Kelly Owen.

 

 

177     ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN –

 

Mr. A.G. Hallett was nominated to be Chairman of the Standards Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year and, having been duly seconded, it was

 

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.

 

 

178     ELECTION OF VICE-CHAIRMAN –  

 

Mr. A. Lane was nominated to be Vice-Chairman of the Standards Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year and, having been duly seconded, it was

 

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

 

 

179     MINUTES –  

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st April, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

180     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore, in referring to Agenda Item No. 11, stated that she had Chaired a meeting of the Licensing Committee which had considered an application for a licence submitted by the Community Councillor.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that in considering the matter at the Licensing Committee, Councillor Mrs. Moore was acting in her role as a Councillor and did not therefore have a personal interest in the matter.

 

 

181     APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATION (MO) –  

 

The Standards Committees (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 dispensation be granted to Vale of Glamorgan Councillor G. Roberts to speak and vote on matters relating to Council Policy and Terms and Conditions which impact on the Council’s workforce generally in view of his wife being an employee of the Shared Regulatory Service, in compliance with paragraphs (d) and (f) of the Standards Committee (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 which governs a grant of dispensation to speak/speak and vote and that the dispensation be granted until the date of the next Local Government Elections.

 

(2)       T H A T dispensation be granted to Vale of Glamorgan Councillor and Llandough Community Councillor P.G. King to speak and vote at meetings of the Councils when matters relating to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s "Reshaping Strategy" are considered in view of him being a member of both Councils, in compliance with paragraph (d) of the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 which governs a grant of dispensation to speak/speak and vote and that the dispensation be granted until the date of the next Local Government Elections.

 

(3)       T H A T dispensation be granted to Vale of Glamorgan Councillor and Barry Town Councillor N.P. Hodges to speak and vote at meetings of the Councils when matters relating to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s "Reshaping Strategy" are considered in view of him being a member of both Councils, in compliance with paragraph (d) of the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 which governs a grant of dispensation to speak/speak and vote and that the dispensation be granted until the date of the next Local Government Elections.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1-3)    To comply with the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 governing applications for the grant of dispensations to speak/speak and vote.

 

 

182     MATTER WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAD DECIDED WAS URGENT –  

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the following matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent for the reason given beneath the minute heading be considered.

 

  

183     APPLICATIONS FOR DISPENSATION (MO) –  

(Urgent by reason of the need to avoid undue delay in making a decision on the matter)

 

The Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 permitted Members to apply to the Standards Committee for 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 dispensation be granted to Llandough Community Councillors R.F. Collier, Ms. P.A. Carreyett, B.C.F. Hill, M.D. Edwards and Dr. M.C. Misra to speak and vote on matters concerning the Llandough and Leckwith War Memorial Institute, with the exception of financial matters involving the Institute, in view of there being five Councillors with a personal interest in this matter.  As there were a total of 10 Members on the Community Council, there was a possibility of a quorum not being achieved should a number of apologies be received.  The dispensation was granted under paragraph (a) of the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001 which governs a grant of dispensation to speak/speak and vote and that the dispensations be granted for the Council year ending 30th  April, 2016.

 

(2)       T H A T consideration of the application received from Llanfair Community Councillor Ms. R.H. Shaw to speak and vote when matters relating to a planning application for a Solar Farm at St. Hilary are considered be deferred, in order that further information regarding Councillor Shaw’s interest be sought from the Clerk of the Community Council.

 

(3)       T H A T consideration of the application received from Llanfair Community Councillor Ms. M. Llewellyn to speak and vote on a planning application for a solar farm at St. Hilary be deferred in order that further information regarding Councillor Llewellyn’s interest be sought from the Clerk of the Community Council.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       In accordance with the Standards Committees (Grant of Dispensations) (Wales) Regulations 2001.

 

(2&3)  In order to clarify the extent of the interest insofar as it may affect other Members of the Community Council.

 

 

184     STANDARDS CONFERENCE WALES 2015 (MO) –  

 

Committee was updated on the forthcoming Standards Conference Wales 2015, to be held on Tuesday, 20th October, 2015 in the City Hall, Cardiff.

 

Full details of the Conference had not yet been finalised but it was known that the theme of the conference would, amongst other things, relate to the 20th Anniversary of the introduction of the Nolan Principles of Conduct in Public Life which falls in 2015. 

 

The Conference would provide an opportunity to hear directly from senior officials involved in the adjudication of the Code of Conduct, to question them on matters of concern and to enable delegates to debate current issues on the Code of Conduct. 

 

A draft Conference Programme was attached to the report.

 

Committee were advised that, in addition to the Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer of each Council in Wales, each Authority had been allocated up to four places at the Conference.

 

Councillor Cuddy stated that he wished to attend the Conference.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the current position with regard to the Conference be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable the Council to be represented at the Conference.

 

 

185     CODE OF CONDUCT: REVISED GUIDANCE FROM THE PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN FOR WALES (MO) –

 

Members were advised of the issue of a revised Guidance on the Members’ Code of Conduct by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 2000 in respect of the Model Code of Conduct in respect of:

 

·         Members of County and County Borough Councils, Fire and Rescue Authorities and National Park Authorities

·         Members of Community Councils.

 

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales ("the Ombudsman") had revised the two stage test that he used when deciding whether to investigate a complaint that the Code had been breached or to continue with an investigation to the stage of referring the matter to a Standards Committee or the Adjudication Panel for Wales, to include consideration of any public interest factors that may apply to a case.  This was to ensure that he continued to investigate serious complaints to maintain public confidence in standards of public life.

 

Further information about the revised test and the public interest factors that the Ombudsman may apply was included in Section 1 of the revised Guidance.  Other changes included further guidance on the use of social media and political expression and two flowcharts which had been designed to provide Members with assistance and clarity on the issues of interest.

 

Copies of the revised Guidance had been circulated to all Vale of Glamorgan Councillors and the Clerks to the Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the revised Guidance on the Members’ Code of Conduct be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having regard to the contents of the revised Guidance on the Members’ Code of Conduct as issued by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

 

 

186     STATUTORY GUIDANCE – ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON COMMUNITY AND TOWN COUNCILS (MO) –

 

Committee was informed of the publication by the Welsh Government of guidance which placed duties on Community and Town Councils to make certain information available electronically. 

 

The Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 gained Royal Assent on 30th July, 2013.  Its primary purpose was to reform the Constitution and functions of what is now known as the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales.  The Act, however, introduced various other provisions connected with local government.

 

Sections 55 - 58 of the Act were concerned with access to information, and most particularly, access to information about Community Councils (Section 58 applied also to County/County Borough Councils, Fire and Rescue Authorities and National Park Authorities in Wales). 

 

In summary, the Act required Community Councils to have websites, to publish notices and papers electronically and to publish their Register of Members Interests electronically (those maintained under Section 81 of the Local Government Act 2000).

 

The Guidance highlighted the new requirements relating to the registration of Members’ Interests.  It was now a requirement of Town and Community Councils to maintain and publish a Register of Members’ Financial and Other Interests as are specified in the Model Code of Conduct with responsibility for establishing and maintaining the Register of Interests transferring from the relevant Monitoring Officer to the "Proper Officer" of each Town or Community Council.

 

A copy of the Guidance had been distributed to the Clerks of all Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan together with advice to each Clerk to report to their respective Councils to designate the Proper Officer for the purposes of Section 58 of the Act.

 

Following discussion on the contents of the report, it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Guidance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Monitoring Officer enquire of every Town and Community Council within the Vale of Glamorgan area as to whether the Town or Community Council has established a website.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       Having regard to the contents of the Guidance.

 

(2)       To ensure that all Town and Community Councils within the Vale of Glamorgan are complying with this aspect of the Guidance.

 

 

187     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 item of business on the grounds that it involves 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.

 

 

188     INVESTIGATION OF A COMPLAINT AGAINST A COMMUNITY COUNCILLOR (MO) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12 AND 13) –

 

Committee considered a copy of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales’ Investigation Report in respect of an investigation into a complaint against Community Councillor A.

 

Committee were requested to make an initial determination whether or not there was evidence that Councillor A. failed, or may have failed, to comply with the Community Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.

 

In referring to paragraph 5 of the Monitoring Officer’s report, Committee was requested to consider a number of proposed changes as set out below:

 

(1)          By carrying out and/or permitting building works to be carried out at his home and his wife’s property known as ****, **** Lane, Dinas Powys, sometime between January 2014 and 18th June, 2014 without planning permission, the Councillor’s conduct could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or the Council into disrepute and thereby breaching paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct. 

 

(2)          Despite having a personal interest in planning application number xxx dated 19th June, 2014 ("the Planning Application") by virtue of paragraphs 10(2)(a)(i) and/or 10(2)(a)(vi) and/or 10(2)(c)(i) of the Code of Conduct, the Councillor failed to consider whether he had a personal interest and whether he was required to disclose that interest, when he emailed Councillors X and Y on 3rd August, 2014 concerning the said Planning Application in advance of the Dinas Powys Planning Committee meeting which considered the Planning Application on 5th August, 2014 and thereby breached paragraph 10(1) of the Code of Conduct.  

 

(3)          Despite having a personal interest in planning application number xxx (the "Planning Application"), the Councillor failed to include details of that interest in his written representations contained in his email dated 3rd August, 2014 sent in part to two Dinas Powys Community Councillors (more particularly Councillors X and Y) and thereby breached paragraph 11(2)(a) of the Code of Conduct.

 

(4)          Despite having a personal interest in planning application number xxx (the "Planning Application"), the Councillor failed to disclose orally to the meeting of the Dinas Powys Planning Committee on 5th August, 2014 the existence and nature of that interest before or at the commencement of the consideration of the matter or when the interest became apparent and thereby breached paragraph 11(1) and/or paragraph 11(2)(b) of the Code of Conduct.

 

(5)          Despite having a personal interest in planning application number xxxx (the "Planning Application") and a prejudicial interest by virtue of paragraph 12(1) of the Code of Conduct, the Councillor sought to influence a decision about the Planning Application by his email dated 3rd August, 2014 sent in part to two Councillors, i.e. Councillors X and Y (both members of the Council who considered the Councillor’s Planning Application on 5th August, 2014 as members of the Council’s Planning Committee) and thereby breached paragraph 14(1)(c) and/or paragraph 14(1)(d) of the Code of Conduct.

 

(6)          Despite having a personal interest in planning application number xxx (the "Planning Application") and a prejudicial interest, the Councillor on 5th August, 2014 failed to withdraw from the room, chamber or place where the meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee was being held to consider the Planning Application, immediately after the period for making representations, answering questions or giving evidence relating to the business had ended and in any event before further consideration of the business began and thereby breached paragraph 14(1)(a)(i) and/or 14(2) of the Code of Conduct.

 

(7)          The Councillor (in his personal capacity as Mr. A) advertised during 2014 the kennels at ***, *** Lane, Dinas Powys as licensed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council albeit they were not licensed and had not been licensed and therefore misrepresented the position thereby breaching paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.

 

(8)          The Councillor either operated the kennels at ***, *** Lane, Dinas Powys ("***") without a licence from the Vale of Glamorgan Council or misrepresented that the kennels at *** were operational and thereby breached paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Code of Conduct.

 

(9)          Despite having a personal interest in Public Bridleway No. 45 St. Andrews Major ("the Bridleway") by virtue of paragraphs 10(2)(a)(i) and/or 10(2)(a)(vi) and/or 10(2)(c)(i) of the Code of Conduct, the Councillor failed to disclose his personal interest at meetings of the Council or sub-committees of the Council on 8th October, 2013 and/or 10th  October, 2013 and/or 14th November, 2013 and/or 22nd January, 2014 and/or 24th June, 2014 and/or when the interest became apparent on 5th August, 2014 and within 14 days of 5th August, 2014, thereby breaching paragraph 11(1) and/or paragraph 11(2)(a) and/or 11(2)(b) of the Code of Conduct.

 

The Monitoring Officer also advised that office copy entries in respect of Title No. XXXX had been obtained and it was noted that the Registered Proprietor since 2003 was Mrs. A.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T Community Councillor A. 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 Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Investigating 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.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

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

 

(2)       In line with the provisions of the 2001 Regulations.