Matter which the Chairman has decided is urgent by reason of the need to avoid undue delay in making a decision
Agenda Item No. 11(i)
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
STANDARDS COMMITTEE: 11TH APRIL 2014.
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 7TH APRIL 2014.
C2279 VOLUNTARY CAP ON INDEMNITIES FOR MEMBERS (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES)
Members were informed of a request by the Welsh Local Government Association ('WLGA'), the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales ('Ombudsman') and Welsh Government Ministers for Welsh Unitary Authorities to introduce a voluntary cap on legal costs indemnities to Members when defending alleged breaches of the Members code of conduct.
The report also sought approval for arrangements to consider and (if appropriate) grant such indemnities.
Under the Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members and Officers) (Wales) Order 2006, the Council could but did not have to provide an indemnity for Members in respect of legal costs incurred in relation to misconduct proceedings brought against them under the Local Government Act 2000.
Concern had been expressed by the WLGA, the Ombudsman and Welsh Government Ministers of the scale of indemnities provided by some Welsh Councils to Members when defending allegations of breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct. All recommended that a cap be introduced by Councils. After some consultation it was agreed to set the cap up to a maximum sum of £20,000.
By adopting the recommendation, the Council would bring its procedure for granting indemnities in line with the majority of Welsh Councils.
The report outlined that when considering applications for indemnities the following restrictions were (as a minimum) deemed appropriate:
A Member should not be granted two or more indemnities if those indemnities would amount to a sum in excess of £30,000 in any one municipal term;
In the event of an indemnity being given and the Member concerned not being successful in the matter the indemnity must in any event be repaid;
The indemnity related only to legal costs reasonably incurred by the Member on or after the date of the application;
The indemnity extended only to costs reasonably incurred up to and including the hearing before the Adjudication Panel for Wales ('APW'). It did not extend to any appeal against, or to any judicial review of any decision of the APW.
No payments would be made under the indemnity until the completion of the hearing and of any appeal.
Payment under the indemnity should be made only on the submission of a receipted invoice for the costs being claimed.
This was a matter for Executive decision.
(1) T H A T the Council's Section 151 Officer be given delegated authority in consultation with the Chair of the Standards Committee to consider applications received from Members of the Council for a legal costs indemnity for defending an allegation of breach of the Members' Code of Conduct, and determine whether an indemnity should be provided by the Council.
(2) T H A T if an indemnity was to be granted the amount be limited up to a maximum of £20,000 subject to the further limitations referred to in paragraph 10 of the report.
(3) T H A T the report be referred to Standards Committee for information.
Reasons for decisions
(1&2) To put in place arrangements for determining applications for the relevant indemnities which was consistent with the majority of Local Authorities in Wales.
(3) To brief the Standards Committee.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 7th April 2014