Agenda Item No
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Standards Committee: 5 December 2013
Report of the Monitoring Officer
New Welsh Model Constitution
Purpose of the Report
1. To consider the draft 'Protocol – Standard of Conduct Expected by Members’ and 'Procedure for Dealing with Allegations made against Councillors and referred to the Standards Committee’ as set out in [Appendices A] [and B] of this report.
To recommend acceptance by this Council’s New Welsh Model Constitution Working Party of Appendices A and B of this report, for incorporation into the Council’s Constitution as part of the ongoing work in reviewing the new Welsh Model Constitution.
Reason for the Recommendation
With a view to promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Councillors and co-opted members and sharing the views of the Standards Committee with the New Welsh Model Constitution Working Party.
2. The Council’s existing Constitution is still largely based on the model version issued by the (then) Welsh Assembly Government in 2001, with numerous updates having since been made to the Constitution in respect of specific issues. However, the former Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (Welsh Branch) (ACSeS), now 'Lawyers in Local Government' commissioned the national law firm, Dickinson Dees (now Bond Dickinson) to produce a new 'Model Welsh Constitution' for Local Authorities in Wales. Support for the new Model Welsh Constitution has been received from both the Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association.
3. The Council has agreed that a working party comprising 7 members be established to look at the various components of the existing, and model constitutions and draft a revised version for eventual consideration by the Council.
4. Relevant extracts for Standards Committee’s consideration are attached at Appendices A and B.
Relevant Issues and Options
5. Part of the role of the Standards Committee is to promote and maintain high standards of conduct amongst Members and to assist them to observe the Members’ Code of Conduct.
6. The purpose of the Protocol at Appendix A is to establish a benchmark of behaviour which is acceptable between Members. It is not intended to replace the Members’ Code of Conduct but to sit alongside it and fill the gap between behaviour which possibly in itself is not serious, but creates unpleasantness between Council Members, and behaviour that it is approaching threshold and serious enough for the Ombudsman to hold an investigation.
7. Gwynedd Council and Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council adopted the Protocol in 2010 and 2011 respectively as part of introducing a local dispute resolution procedure for dealing with complaints concerning Members. As a result of those Councils’ experiences, Appendix A has been incorporated into the new Welsh Model Constitution for consideration by the remaining 20 Local Authorities in Wales to incorporate into their respective constitutions.
8. Appendix B is consistent with procedures and guidance previously adopted by this Council’s Standards Committee in 2007 and reflects the current relevant statutory requirements of Part III of the Local Government Act 2000 and related regulations.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
9. None directly arising from this report.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
11. As set out in this report.
Crime and Disorder Implications
12. None directly arising from this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
13. The Protocol at Appendix A reinforces the expectation of Members to show respect to diversity and equality.
14. The Constitution is part of the framework supporting the Council’s commitment to provide political leadership and active relationship and engagement.
Policy Framework and Budget
15. The adoption and subsequent changing of the Constitution is a matter for the full Council.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
16. The monitoring and amendments of the Constitution is an internal matter and therefore no external consultation is necessary. Members of the New Model Welsh Constitution Working Party will be consulted in due course.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
New Model Welsh Constitution
Debbie Marles – Head of Legal Services
01446 709402 email: DMarles@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk
Debbie Marles – Head of Legal Services (and Monitoring Officer)